Magesh Chandran dominates Hastings Congress

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/6/2020 – There was no stopping Magesh Chandran Panchanathan at the 95th edition of the Hastings International Chess Congress. The Indian grandmaster finished in clear first place with an outstanding 7½ out of 9 score. Second place went to Romain Edouard, who was the only player to end the tournament a half point behind Magesh. Four players shared 3rd to 6th on 6½. | Pictured: Magesh (left) during the 2017 Reykjavik Open | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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An exceptional performance


The 95th edition of the traditional Hastings International Chess Congress is taking place at the Horntye Park Sports Complex from December 28th, 2019 until January 5th, 2020. The Masters is a 9-round Swiss open with a rate of play of 40 moves in 100 minutes, followed by all remaining moves in 50 minutes, with the addition of 30 seconds for each move from the start. Rounds kick off at 15:15 CET and can be followed live at Live.ChessBase.com.


The tenth highest rated in Hastings was the clear winner of the 95th International Congress after scoring six wins and three draws. Magesh Chandran, rated 2479, outscored a field that included two 2600+ and five 2500+ participants. During his undefeated run, he faced six players from the tournament's top 10, which prompted him to achieve a remarkable 2773 rating performance, thus gaining 33 Elo points in nine days.

The 36-year-old from Madurai obtained his peak rating (2586) back in 2011,but this triumph might be the start of an ascent up the rating ladder. For those who saw his steady play at the turn of the year, that would certainly not be a surprise.

After scoring three consecutive wins from rounds four to six, the Indian was paired up against Hungarian IM Mate Bagi. The latter had the white pieces, but decided to call it a day early on, signing a draw after 16 moves. Magesh had a second Black in a row in his eighth round game against his compatriot Deep Sengupta. Things seemed to be going well for Sengupta, until he irreversibly weakened the structure around his king:

 

White's 27.g3 is only an inaccuracy, but more importantly it creates more weaknesses around a king that is already vulnerable. Three moves later, the game came to a sudden conclusion. There followed 27...h3 28.h1 h4 29.g1 h6 and 30.f1, which overlooked a lethal blow:

 

Sengupta resigned after 30...xh2+ due to 31.♔xh2 hxg3+ 32.♔g2 ♞f4# or 32.♜h2#. This win left Magesh a full point ahead of a four-player group with a single round left to go.

 

The eventual champion's last opponent was another of his compatriots, 26-year-old grandmaster Stany G.A., who came from getting two consecutive wins. Magesh had the white pieces and got both a passer on the b-file and a space advantage in the early middlegame. On the other hand, Stany had a better structure and the bishop pair. Before finding out which player could make the most of his position, they decided to split the point on move 33, thus securing tournament victory for Magesh.

At that point, a fierce struggle was taking place on board three, where third seed Erik van den Doel had the white pieces against third seed Romain Edouard. In the midst of a complex tactical fight, Van den Doel missed a chance to get the upper hand:

 

Edouard's previous 29...d5 was a blunder, as it allowed 30.♕c2, threatening the rook — after, for example, 30...♚g8, White has 31.♘d6, with threats against the f7-pawn, the possibility of a strong e4-push and a queen well-placed to penetrate on the c-file. Van den Doel perhaps saw this idea, but played it in the wrong order — he started with 30.d6 and, after 30...xe3, going for 31.c2 is actually a mistake:

 

Black can now play 31...f4, ignoring his rook while taking advantage of the excellent attacking placement of his bishops! White now needed to get into defensive mode with 32.♖f2, but played 32.d3 instead. Edouard continued to find good moves — 32...b3 33.f2 h3:

 

Black is now completely winning. Van den Doel tried to hold on for a while, but his rival quickly exchanged into a winning endgame. This victory gave Edouard clear second place, and will hopefully help him get over the big half point he let go of in round six.

 

Four players finished half a point behind Edouard, on 6½ out of 9. Hungarian GM Gergely Kantor got the best tiebreak score and was followed by "Ginger GM" Simon Williams, Mate Bagi and Stany G.A. Williams ended the tournament on a high, defeating Alan B. Merry with the black pieces. "Harry the h-pawn", as he calls it, had an instrumental role in the victory that prompted him to obtain a 2541 rating performance.

 

Final standings (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Panchanathan Magesh Chandran 7,5 0,0
2 Edouard Romain 7,0 0,0
3 Kantor Gergely 6,5 0,0
4 Williams Simon K 6,5 0,0
5 Bagi Mate 6,5 0,0
6 Stany G.A. 6,5 0,0
7 Howell David W L 6,0 0,0
8 Fishbein Alexander 6,0 0,0
9 Hebden Mark L 6,0 0,0
10 Vaishali R 6,0 0,0
11 Gormally Daniel W 6,0 0,0
12 Petrov Martin 6,0 0,0
13 Sengupta Deep 6,0 0,0
14 Swayams Mishra 6,0 0,0
15 Flear Glenn C 6,0 0,0
16 Cherniaev Alexander 6,0 0,0
17 Murphy Conor E 6,0 0,0
18 Korneev Oleg 6,0 0,0
19 Lalic Bogdan 6,0 0,0
20 Merry Alan B 5,5 0,0
21 Rudd Jack 5,5 0,0
22 Lehaci Miruna-Daria 5,5 0,0
23 Van Den Doel Erik 5,5 0,0
24 Grieve Harry 5,5 0,0
25 Arkell Keith C 5,5 0,0

...123 players


Games from Round 9

 

All games available at Live.ChessBase.com

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.