Adhiban dominates the Biel Masters

by Sagar Shah
7/29/2014 – The main focus of the Biel Chess festival was on the Grandmaster tournament, won by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. But this was not the only strong chess event held. 84 participants started in the Master tournament, 25 of them GMs. With 8.5/11 GM Baskaran Adhiban from India won convincingly. An illustrated report with deep annotations by GM Adhiban.

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Adhiban not only won the tournament in front of strong players such as Viktor Erdos (2648), Mateusz Bartel (2644), Dragan Solak (2639), Samuel Shankland (2632), and many more, but with a score of 8.5/11 he also managed to secure a one point margin over his rivals.

22-year-old Adhiban played with great grit and determination to beat players such as DraganSolak,
Alexander Rakhmanov and Viktor Mikhalevski

The top three of the Master tournament: Gold medal winner Adhiban (center), Viktor
Mikhalevski, who came second (left), and Mateusz Bartel (right) winning bronze

Between the tournament which ended a few days ago and the Olympiad in Tromso, which will beginsin a few days, Adhiban was kind enough to answer the questions that I sent him.

What was your aim at the start of the tournament?

I started as the eighth seed in the tournament. I just wanted to focus on playing good chess.

What was the most crucial game of the tournament?

The ninth round against Mateusz Bartel was crucial. I was leading the tournament by half a point, but got into a worse position. I managed to save it after a long struggle. After saving that game, I was confident of winning the tournament.

How does it feel to win such a strong tournament with a one point margin?

Really good. I am very happy with my achievement.

With such a strong performance, Adhiban announces his presence in the chess elite!

What was your best game of the tournament?

A tough but pleasant question! I liked two games in particular: my sixth-round win against Alexander Rakhmanov, after which I was first and stayed so till the end, my game against Solak in the eleventh and last round, which brought me the title!

Adhiban vs Rakhmanov 1-0. Though this was a good game,
Adhiban decided to annotate his game against Dragan Solak.

Adhiban's annotations will give you an insight into his thinking and his striving for clarity.

Annotations by GM Adhiban:

[Event "Biel Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.07.25"] [Round "11"] [White "Solak, D."] [Black "Adhiban, B."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B48"] [WhiteElo "2639"] [BlackElo "2610"] [Annotator "B Adhiban"] [PlyCount "126"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {Hello to all readers! 2014 has been a great year for me and it became even better when I won the Biel Open. I have annotated one of my best games played there.} 1. e4 c5 {This was the final round and I was leading the tournament by half a point margin,but there were quite some players on 7. So only if they drew the game, then a draw would be satisfactory in my game.} 2. Nf3 e6 {Solak said that he was only expecting Najdorf which I had played against him in the rapid, though the game lasted only 6 moves...} 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. f4 {This has become quite popular recently.} Bb4 9. Bd3 Ng4 $5 {An interesting idea and it was not yet tested properly.} (9... Na5 {is the popular mainline.}) 10. Bg1 O-O $146 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. h3 Nf6 13. a3 ( 13. e5 Nd5 14. Bf2 Be7) (13. Bd4 {During the game, I thought this was more critical and I was intending to continue with} d5 $5 14. Bxf6 (14. a3 Bxc3 15. Bxc3 {White has a strong bishop but black is doing perfectly fine.} (15. Qxc3 Qxf4) 15... Nxe4 16. Bxe4 dxe4 17. O-O-O (17. Qd4 f5 18. O-O-O) 17... c5) 14... gxf6 $132 {with a complex position.}) 13... Be7 14. e5 Nd5 15. Ne2 (15. Ne4 f5 16. Ng3 (16. Nd6 Bxd6 17. exd6 Qxd6) (16. exf6 Nxf6 17. Nxf6+ Bxf6 $36) 16... Bb7 (16... c5 17. Nxf5 $1 (17. c4 Nb6)) 17. c4 Nb6 $15 {with a good position for Black.}) 15... c5 (15... f6 {This was possible but I felt that the c8-bishop might not be active here.} 16. c4 Nb6 17. exf6 gxf6 (17... Rxf6 18. Bd4) (17... Bxf6 18. Bc5 $16)) 16. c4 Nb6 17. O-O-O (17. Nc3 Bb7 18. Be3 f6 $1 {Now there is no good way to protect the e5.}) 17... Bb7 18. Nc3 Rad8 (18... f6 {Once I commit to this then d-pawn becomes weak.} 19. Bh2) 19. Qc2 h6 (19... g6 20. h4 $5 {I felt there was no need to allow this.}) 20. Be3 d5 (20... f6 21. Rhe1 $1 fxe5 22. fxe5 Qxe5 23. Bxh6) 21. exd6 Rxd6 {Though c5 is bit weak white really can't exploit it since Black's forces are very active.} 22. Rhe1 ( 22. Rd2 {I think this is the best plan for white.} Rfd8 23. Rhd1 {Preparing a mass exchanges on the d-file, Black has to bit careful not to allow queen exchanges also since then white's queenside majority will prove to be strong.} Bf6 (23... R6d7 $5 {is maybe the best, keeping all options open.}) 24. Ne4 (24. Bf1 {doesn't work due to} Bd4 ({Or} 24... Rxd2 25. Rxd2 Bd4)) 24... Bxe4 25. Bxe4 Bd4 (25... Rxd2 26. Rxd2 Rxd2 27. Bxd2) 26. Bxd4 Rxd4 27. g3 Rxd2 28. Rxd2 Rxd2 29. Qxd2 $1 (29. Kxd2 g5) 29... Nxc4 30. Qe2 $44) 22... Rfd8 (22... Rxd3 23. Rxd3 (23. Qxd3 Bxg2) 23... Nxc4) 23. g3 {Here he offered a draw, But I was quite happy with my position so I proceeded to play on...} Bf6 24. Bh7+ Kh8 25. Rxd6 Qxd6 (25... Rxd6 26. Ne4 $1 Bxe4 27. Bxe4 Bd4 28. Bxd4 Rxd4 29. b3 {White has absolutely no problems here.}) 26. Rd1 (26. Ne4 Bxe4 27. Bxe4 Bd4 $1 28. Kb1 (28. Bxd4 Qxd4 29. Rd1 Qe3+) 28... Rb8 $1 29. Re2 {White is barely holding his position together.} (29. Rd1 Nxc4 30. Bxd4 (30. Qxc4 Rxb2+ 31. Ka1 (31. Kc1 Bxe3+) 31... Rd2+) 30... Nxa3+ 31. Kc1 Nxc2 32. Bxg7+ Kxg7 33. Rxd6 Nb4 $15)) 26... Bd4 $5 {Utilising the opportunity to change the pawn structure.} 27. Bxd4 cxd4 28. Ne2 (28. Be4 Nxc4 {was my original intention.} (28... Bc6 $5 29. Bxc6 Qxc6 $15) 29. Bxb7 Ne3 30. Qe4 $1 {I understimated this resource.} (30. Ne4 Qe7 ) 30... Nxd1 31. Nxd1 Qb6 32. Kb1 {White is doing well.}) 28... Qc5 29. Bd3 Bc6 {I was counting on this when I played Qd6.} (29... a5 $17 {was positionally sound and gives Black a good position.}) 30. Kb1 (30. b4 Qh5 {Black has an annoying intiative, one possible line I was considering was} 31. Ng1 Ba4 32. Qe2 Bxd1 33. Kxd1 Qxe2+ 34. Nxe2 a5 {I stopped my analysis here but apparently white has decent compensation here.} (34... Na8 $5 {is engine's preference, but I am not really sure about this position anymore.}) 35. Kc2 $44) 30... Qh5 $5 {Once I realised that Ba4 wasn't working, I decided to change tactics and go for the kingside pawns, A somewhat risky strategy since I abandon my control over the queenside but ... it did win me the game!} (30... Ba4 31. b3 Qxa3 32. bxa4 {I tried to make some knight jump work but it just wasn't there.} Nxa4 (32... Rb8 33. Qa2) 33. Qa2) 31. Qb3 (31. h4 a5 {with an interesting struggle.}) 31... Nd7 (31... Na4 32. Qb4) (31... Rb8 32. Qb4 $1) 32. Qb4 (32. g4 $1 Qxh3 33. Nxd4 Ba8 (33... Nc5 34. Qb6) 34. Be2 $1 $14 {White has the better game now.}) (32. Nxd4 Nc5) 32... Rb8 33. Qd6 Ba4 34. Rc1 $6 $138 (34. Rd2 $1 Qxh3 (34... Qa5 35. b4 $1 (35. Kc1 Rxb2 $1)) 35. Qxd4 {White is slightly better here.} (35. b4 $5 {Houdini gives this inhuman move and claims White is clearly better.})) 34... Qc5 $1 (34... Qf3 35. Qxd4 Nc5 36. Rc3 $1 { White protects everything.}) 35. Qxd4 Qxa3 36. Bc2 (36. c5 Bc6 {With the idea of Bd5 and still White is under some pressure.} (36... Rb4 37. Rc4 Rxc4 38. Qxc4)) 36... Nc5 37. Qd8+ {A nice trick but black is better in the arising endgame.} (37. Bxa4 Nxa4 38. Rc2 {White should be able to hold this.} Nc5 39. Qd8+ Rxd8 40. bxa3 {We reached the same endgame with equal pawns but still black is much better.} Kg8 $17) 37... Rxd8 38. bxa3 Rd2 39. Nc3 (39. Bxa4 Nxa4 (39... Rxe2 {I didn't want to go for this since white has good chances of saving this endgame and this was the reason, Solak had rejected this.} 40. Bc2 Re3 41. Rd1 g5 42. Rd8+ Kg7 43. Rc8 {White has good saving chances here.}) 40. Nc3 Nc5 41. Rd1 Rg2 $17) 39... Bxc2+ 40. Rxc2 Rd3 $1 {All white pawns are weak, hence the endgame is easily winning, also by now 2nd and 3rd had drawn...} 41. Ne2 (41. Kb2 Rxg3) 41... Rxa3 42. Ra2 Re3 {Its better to maintain the rooks since my rook is much more active.} (42... Rxa2 43. Kxa2 Kg8 44. Ka3 a5 45. Nd4 Kf8 46. Nc6 (46. Nb3 {I was checking this endgame before I saw Nc6.} Nxb3 47. Kxb3 Ke7 48. Ka4 Kd6 49. Kb5 $1 $11) 46... Ne4 {Black is probably still winning anyway.} (46... a4 47. Kb4)) 43. Kc1 Ne4 {(preventing Kd1)} 44. Rc2 ( 44. Kd1 Rxe2 {I thought this was easily winning but black has to be bit accurate.} 45. Rxe2 Nc3+ 46. Kd2 Nxe2 47. Kxe2 Kg8 48. Kd3 f6 $1 (48... Kf8 { Allows a draw.} 49. Kd4 Ke7 50. Kc5) 49. Kd4 Kf7 50. Kc5 e5 51. f5 e4 52. Kd4 Ke7 $19) 44... Kg8 45. Kd1 Nxg3 46. Nc3 (46. Nxg3 Rxg3 47. c5 Rg1+) 46... Ne4 47. Nxe4 Rxe4 48. c5 Kf8 49. Kd2 (49. c6 Rd4+ 50. Ke2 Rd8 51. Ra2 $1 Ra8 $1 52. Kd3 Ke7 53. Rb2 Kd6 54. Rb7 Rf8 55. Rb6 Rc8 $19) 49... Ke7 50. Ra2 Kd7 51. Rxa6 Rxf4 52. Ke3 g5 53. Rd6+ Kc7 54. Ra6 h5 55. Ke2 g4 56. hxg4 hxg4 57. Ke3 e5 58. Ke2 f5 59. Re6 g3 60. Rxe5 Re4+ 61. Rxe4 fxe4 62. Ke3 Kc6 63. Kxe4 g2 {This win gave me my second European victory and that too in such a strong tournament in the beautiful city of Biel. A nice memory!} 0-1

What are your thoughts on the Tromso Olympiad?

Well, we are a young team and we all want to give our best irrespective of the odds we face. Hence I think it is really going to be a great tournament for India.

Author's note: With four players born after 1992 the Indian team is really young. With Parimarjan Negi (1993), Adhiban (1992), Sethuraman (1993), and Lalith Babu (1993) starting, Krishnan Sasikiran (1981) is the oldest and most experienced player. The team is seeded 19th with an average rating of 2629.

In the game he annotated above Adhiban mentions that 2014 has been an especially good year for him. Here are a few of his achievements:

  • Finished joint second (overall seventh) at the Gibraltar Open 2014.
  • Second at the Asian inter-continental behind Yu Yangyi, qualifying for the next World Cup.
  • Part of the team that won the 2nd Maharashtra Chess League 2014, winning the award for best player of the tournament.

Adhiban with his team Jalgaon Battlers. (Photo by V.Saravanan)

Adhiban (right) with Pentala Harikrishna (left) and Anish Giri (center)

In 2013 Pentala Harikrishna won the Biel Master tournament and one year later played in the Grandmaster tournament. If Adhiban keeps improving the way he has done so far, there is no reason why he wouldn't be locking horns with the best in 2015.

Before signing off I would like to wish Adhiban the best in the tournaments to come and I leave the readers with a game in which this prodigious talent destroyed the author in brutal fashion just a month ago.

[Event "Maharashtra TCh-IND League 2014"] [Site "Pune IND"] [Date "2014.06.11"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Sagar, Shah"] [Black "Adhiban, Baskaran"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "2309"] [BlackElo "2624"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2014.06.11"] [EventType "rapid"] [EventRounds "5"] [EventCountry "IND"] [WhiteTeam "Pune Attackers"] [BlackTeam "Jalgaon Battlers"] {This was the first game of the Maharashtra Chess League for me and I was paired against the highest rated player of the tournament.} 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 {As I was playing one of the most feared opening theoretician of India, I decided to play somethng off beat. In that way I thought I could take him out of his preparation. But as it turned out Adhiban was well prepared for this line too!} 7. e4 Nxe4 8. Nxe4 dxe4 9. Qxe4 Bb4+ 10. Bd2 Bxd2+ 11. Nxd2 O-O 12. Bd3 $6 {A natural move yet this is an inaccuracy. As Adhiban rightly pointed out to me after the game that White must 0-0-0 over here.} (12. O-O-O {and the chances are balanced.}) 12... Nf6 { Suddenly I start to have problems with the fact that I have to defend the d4 pawn and at the same time after e5 or c5 breaks my bishop on d3 starts to be undefended.} 13. Qe3 $6 {tried to keep both d4 and d3 defended but this is met with energetic play by the youngster.} (13. Qh4 e5 $1 {would leave black with the upper hand but still I should have played this as after} (13... c5 14. O-O Qxd4 15. Qxd4 cxd4 16. Nf3 $11) 14. O-O-O Qxd4 15. Qxd4 exd4 16. Nb3 Rd8 17. Be2 {I regain the pawn where black is not so much better.}) 13... Ng4 $1 (13... e5 {was also an interesting way to play}) 14. Qh3 (14. Bxh7+ Kxh7 15. Qh3+ Nh6 {unfortunately doesn't work.}) (14. Qe4 f5 $1) 14... f5 $1 {The d4 pawn is hanging and after 14 moves of the opening I find myself in deep trouble.} 15. Nf3 (15. Nb3 a5 {I was really uncomfortable with this move.} 16. a4 Qb6 17. Bc2 {could have been a better defence.}) 15... e5 $1 {A timely blow in the center.} 16. Nxe5 Qa5+ $1 {An accurate move preventing my king from going to d1-c2.} ( 16... Nxe5 17. dxe5 Qa5+ 18. Kd1 Qxe5 $6 (18... Qb6 $17 {is stronger.}) 19. Kc2 $11 {Was what I was aiming for and my king is safe and the worst is behind me.} ) 17. Kf1 Nxe5 18. dxe5 Qxe5 {The opening has been a disaster for white. His rooks cannot be co-ordinated and his king is shuddering in the center. Such positions are really bad when you face a player like Adhiban who plays with great vigour and accuracy. Look how he converts this one.} 19. Rb1 Be6 { connecting the rooks.} 20. Qe3 Qf6 $1 {Avoiding the queen exchange in order to attack the white king.} 21. f4 $2 {Out of depseration. Maybe I should have been more conservative but I wanted some breathing space. The idea with Kf2 and connecting the rooks never really works out.} Rfe8 $1 {effective play. Kf2 is not possible.} 22. Qf3 Rad8 23. b3 (23. Kf2 $2 Qd4+ $19) 23... Qc3 (23... Bf7 24. Rd1 Qh6 $1 $19 {with the idea of Bh5 is extremely strong.}) 24. Rd1 Bf7 25. g3 (25. h4 {could have been a better way to play}) 25... Re7 26. Kf2 Rde8 27. g4 Qb2+ 28. Kf1 Re3 $19 29. Qf2 Qc3 30. Bxf5 Rf3 31. Kg1 Rxf2 32. Kxf2 Qe3+ {Though this was only a rapid game with a time control of 25 minutes + 5 sec increment, the accuracy with which Adhiban played was truly amazing.} 0-1

Final standings

Rk Name Ti. Rtg Fed Pts TB
1. Adhiban,B GM 2610 IND 8.5 71.0
2. Mikhalevski,Victor GM 2539 ISR 7.5 71.5
3. Bartel,Mateusz GM 2644 POL 7.5 69.5
4. Rakhmanov,Aleksandr GM 2626 RUS 7.5 69.0
5. Shankland,Samuel L GM 2632 USA 7.5 68.5
6. Bok,Benjamin GM 2586 NED 7.5 66.0
7. Swiercz,Dariusz GM 2617 POL 7.5 65.0
8. Erdos,Viktor GM 2648 HUN 7.5 62.5
9. Sebenik,Matej GM 2516 SLO 7.0 71.0
10. Roiz,Michael GM 2572 ISR 7.0 70.5
11. Molner,Mackenzie GM 2504 USA 7.0 70.5
12. Hera,Imre Jr GM 2561 HUN 7.0 68.5
13. Solak,Dragan GM 2639 TUR 7.0 68.5
14. Cvitan,Ognjen GM 2535 CRO 7.0 65.5
15. Ganguly,Surya Shekhar GM 2619 IND 7.0 63.5

Click for complete standings


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Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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titosparov titosparov 7/31/2014 07:33
nice report