Inarkiev inks Sharjah 2019 title

by Niklesh Kumar Jain
4/4/2019 – Wang Hao had been unstoppable in the last couple of tournaments that he played, but at the Sharjah Masters, as the top seed, he had to settle for the second prize. It was Russian Ernesto Inarkiev who took home the winner's cheque of USD $15,000, after a seven way tie at the top. Inarkiev led the tournament right from the start and hence he was the deserving winner. Niklesh Jain sends us an illustrated report from the venue.

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Seven players tie on 7 points

GM Ernesto Inarkiev won the Sharjah Masters 2019 with 7.0/9 and a performance of 2790. It was a seven-way tie at the top, but Inarkiev edged out everyone else with a superior tiebreak (Buchholz), and the prize money was not shared.

Although Inarkiev was one of five leaders after three rounds, he was the only one of that group to finish at the top by the tournament's end. Wang Hao was the only one of the 2700-rated players to reach 7 points.

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Inarkiev Ernesto 7,0
2 Wang Hao 7,0
3 Kryvoruchko Yuriy 7,0
4 Firouzja Alireza 7,0
5 Matlakov Maxim 7,0
6 Yakubboev Nodirbek 7,0
7 Mareco Sandro 7,0


Ernesto Inarkiev took home the first place prize of US $15,000 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

I caught up with Inarkiev after the tournament and asked him about the last round exciting draw against Matlakov, his favourite game of the event, how he found the conditions in Sharjah, his views on Russia winning the World Team Championships, Kramnik's retirement and the upcoming talents of Indian chess. 

"In every tournament Russia is favourite, but it's not enough"

5 fun facts about Inarkiev
  1. He was named after Ernesto Che Guevera, the famous Argentinian Marxist revolutionary
  2. He was born in Kyrgyzstan and played two Olympiads for the Kyrgyz team in 1998 and 2000
  3. He moved to Elista and started representing Russian Chess Federation on the invitation of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
  4. He is the first GM from the region of Kalmykia
  5. He was the European Champion in 2016

Inarkiev performance

Performance of Inarkiev via Chess-Results (click or tap to enlarge)

Inarkiev's two most important wins were against Indian players — Nihal Sarin in round four and Abhijeet Gupta in round six. In both the games you can see that the Classical variation of the Sicilian was played. Inarkiev's play had a nice blend of good opening preparation and logical moves one after another. He didn't make a mistake which would swing the evaluation in favour of his opponent. Both Nihal and Abhijeet were not able to keep the same amount of control. We have quite a lot to learn from Ernesto's handling of the Sicilian.

Annotations by IM Sagar Shah

Click or tap the second game to switch

After the start of 1½/3 Maxim Matlakov would not have thought that he would tie for the first place at the end of the tournament. He lost to Oliver Dimakiling and then drew against Sri Sai Baswanth (rated 2018). But not losing his faith Matlakov scored 5½ points in the last six rounds.

Maxim Matlakov

Matlakov had a string of five straight wins | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Alireza Firouzja had another fine tournament. He remained unbeaten, scored 7.0/9 for an Elo performance of 2698. His live rating is now 2675. And mind you, Alireza is still just 15 years old!

Firouzja will be 16 in June | Photo: Niklesh Jain

IM Lawrence Trent analyzed Firouzja's win over IM Anh Khoi Nguyen in the latest edition of The Weekly Show.

Lawrence is live most Tuesdays at 16:00 UTC (18:00 CEST / 12 Noon EDT)

IM Nodirbek Yakkuboev is still an IM, but easily surpassed the requirements of a GM norm with a 2689 performance, including two critical wins against Le Quang Liem and Vladimir Fedoseev.


Click or tap the second game to switch

Nodirbek Yakkuboev | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Two other Uzbek talents Nodirbek Abdustattorov and Shamsiddin Vokhidov| Photo: Niklesh Jain

Mareco Sandro scored 7.0/9 and finished 7th despite losing the first round | Photo: A. Silver

All the top winners captured in one frame | Photo: Niklesh Jain

A tournament of this stature cannot be organized without a competent team | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The Chairman of the organizing committee Mr. Talal Alzaabi | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Additional videos

You'll find more clips via ChessBase India's Sharjah Masters 2019 playlist on YouTube.

Talal Alzaabi, the chairman of the organizing committee, speaks about the Sharjah Masters 2019, the Sharjah Chess Club and his future plans

Le Quang Liem speaks about his third round win over M.R. Venkatesh

Nihal Sarin recaps his performance to IM Sagar Shah in a 45-minute interview where we talk to the 14-year-old prodigy about his games from Sharjah Masters 2019

GM R.R. Laxman played a logical game from the black side of the Nimzo-Indian and beat GM Pouya Idani

FIDE Instructor Niklesh Kumar Jain Jain is an international chess player who has participated in tournaments in almost in 20 different countries, winning the international tournament in Sri Lanka in 2010. He also worked for a television network as an anchor and news writer for two years and reported in Hindi during World Chess Championship 2013 and 2014.


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