Srinath Narayanan wins 3rd Kolkata International

by Aditya Pai
5/24/2018 – The third edition of Kolkata International Grandmaster Open came to a close on Tuesday. At the end of nine rounds, GM Srinath Narayanan emerged on top of the field with a score of 7½/9. This was one of the best Grandmaster events organised in India and also happens to be the last event of FIDE Presidential candidate Nigel Short before he begins his election campaign. | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

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Narayanan and a bit of luck

After a three year long hiatus, the Kolkata Open Grandmaster tournament took place at the New Town School in the capital city of West Bengal, India from May 14th to 22nd. The tournament attracted 193 players from twelve countries. The field was headlined by the FIDE Presidential Candidate GM Nigel Short and consisted of 28 GMs, 31 IMs, two WGMs along with several FMs, CMs and WIMs, making it arguably the strongest tournament ever in Kolkata and one of the strongest in India.

One afternoon round was played on each day of the event with a time control of 90 minutes for the entire game plus 30 seconds per move starting from the first move. At the end of the scheduled nine rounds, GM Srinath Narayanan and GM Deepan Chakkravarthy finished at the top of the leaderboard scoring 7½/9 apiece. After the tiebreaks were applied, GM Narayanan was declared the title winner.

For Srinath, luck had been smiling on him for quite a few rounds. In the penultimate round, for example, Srinath was pitted against local GM Deep Sengupta who surprised him with a Trompowsky Attack with the white pieces. But the boot was on the wrong foot when Sengupta miscalculated and dropped a piece on the tenth move, giving his opponent the full point within barely one hour of play.

Deep Sengupta resigning his penultimate round game against Srinath Naryananan at the 3rd Kolkata International GM Open

Neither player looked happy with the way the game ended | Photo: Amruta Mokal

 

Narayanan talks about his miniature against Deep Sengupta with IM Sagar Shah | ChessBase India Youtube

In the seventh round, too, Srinath was struggling to hold ground against the two time Indian National Champion, GM Murali Karthikeyan. Karthikeyan was clearly winning; all that was remaining was to find a couple of accurate moves to wrap things up.

 

In this position Karthikeyan, playing black, just had to just play 41...Kg7 followed by Bb5 to finish the game. However, Karthikeyan opted to go for 41...Ba4 and after 42.Qd3, gave away all his advantage with 42...Bd7 and even went on to lose.

 

The Blumenfeld Gambit - A sharp weapon in the Benoni

It was back in the 1920s that the Russian master Benjamin Blumenfeld invented his famous gambit 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5!?, and to the present day the opening retains great popularity. Black plays for the initiative and the win from the word go.

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With back-to-back wins in the seventh and the eighth round, Srinath was able to take sole lead in the tournament, half-a-point ahead of his nearest rival. So, in the final round, he could afford a rather sedate draw against GM Shyam Sundar which assured him a shared first place.

The three-player pack chasing Srinath included the top seed of the tournament, GM Nigel Short, GM Deepan Chakkravarthy and FM Arjun Erigaisi.

Short and Erigaisi were pitted against each other in the finale. While a win would have propelled either player to the first spot, a draw had its own incentive for the 15-year-old: he would have earned his first Grandmaster norm. From the black side of the Reti opening, Erigaisi was able to equalize comfortably and, in the end, secured a draw after 39 moves. With this draw, Arjun also reached the 2500 rating threshold required for the GM title besides scoring the GM norm.

 

Arjun breezes through some of his games from his GM-norm-winning performance in Kolkata | ChessBase India YouTube

Nigel Short receiving his prize at the closing ceremony of the Kolkata International GM Open

With a draw GM Nigel Short finished third on the leaderboard | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

Short shared a hilarious speech at the closing ceremony | ChessBase India Youtube

While this game ended in a draw, GM Deepan Chakkravarthy let all hell break loose in his third-board encounter against GM Deep Sengupta. From the black side of an English opening, Sengupta essayed a novelty which did more harm to his position than good. In response, the Madurai-based grandmaster sacrificed his knight to keep his opponent's king in the centre.

 

Sengupta accepted the offered knight but, in the resulting position, he was hardly able to move a piece. Unable to find a way out of this traffic jam of pieces, he thrust his h-pawn forward in an attempt to liberate his rook. But by this point, serious threats loomed over Sengupta's king stuck in the centre and a blunder on the 18th move spelt doom for Black.

 

Deepan Chakkravarthy receiving his prize at the Kolkata International GM Open

With a sparkling performance, Deepan not only finished joint first but also won the 'Game of the Day' prize | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

Other exciting moments

The tournament was action-packed and filled with moments of excitement throughout. Like in all open tournaments, there were some upsets in the early rounds. In fact, in the first round itself, the fourth seed of the tournament, GM Farrukh Amonatov, was held to a draw by the 16-year-old Kushager Krishnater. The Tajik GM, however, was rather happy about this result as he thought he was completely lost in the position.

Kushager Krishnater shares his ideas with IM Sagar Shah | ChessBase India Youtube

The string of upsets continued in the second round too as WIM Vantika Agrawal defeated Karthikeyan, the third seed of the tournament and two-time Indian national champion. The game was especially impressive because Karthikeyan is known to shine in complex positions thanks to his outstanding calculating ability. But Vantika chose to take the bull by the horns in this game and willingly steered into a complicated position. And, as they say, 'fortune favours the brave'; Karthikeyan blundered on his 36th turn and was forced to resign in a few moves.

IM Vantika Agrawal on her win against the third-seeded GM Murali Karthikeyan | ChessBase India Youtube

GM Ivan Rozum's sixth-round game was another thrilling point in the tournament. Rozum had taken the sole in the tournament with a perfect score of 6.0/6, beating GM Deep Sengupta in the previous round. In round six, he was pitted against GM Adam Tukhaev. By the time the following position was reached, it looked like Rozum was well on his way to victory, continuing his dream run in the tournament.

 

Make the moves in the live diagram

Here, all black had to do was to get to the d7 square with his king and execute the imprisoned passed pawn. After this, Black's queenside majority would decide matters. Of course, Rozum was aware of this. But the Russian GM chose the wrong route. He went 43...Kg7, which allowed the tactical stroke 44.Nd6 Rxc7 45.Ne8+ and it was lights out soon. 

Round 6 game between Adam Tukhaev and Ivan Rozum at the Kolkata International GM Open

While this loss dragged Rozum to joint second place, it propelled Tukhaev to the pole position | Photo: Shahid Ahmed

 

The Kolkata International GM Open also happens to be GM Nigel Short's last tournament before he embarked on a seven-country tour to campaign for the FIDE elections. In the interview below, he talks to IM Sagar Shah about his campaign strategies.

"I am the only alternative to the continuation of the bad old ways" says GM Nigel Short | ChessBase India Youtube

Players weigh in on why this was one of the best-organised tournaments in India | ChessBase India Youtube

Final standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Narayanan Srinath 7,5 0,0
2 Deepan Chakkravarthy J. 7,5 0,0
3 Short Nigel D 7,0 0,0
4 Shyam Sundar M. 7,0 0,0
5 Erigaisi Arjun 7,0 0,0
6 Harsha Bharathakoti 7,0 0,0
7 Tukhaev Adam 6,5 0,0
8 Rozum Ivan 6,5 0,0
9 Burmakin Vladimir 6,5 0,0
10 Amonatov Farrukh 6,5 0,0
11 Nihal Sarin 6,5 0,0
12 Karthikeyan Murali 6,5 0,0
13 Rahman Ziaur 6,5 0,0
14 Gupta Abhijeet 6,5 0,0
15 Vishnu Prasanna. V 6,5 0,0
16 Neverov Valeriy 6,5 0,0
17 Nguyen Van Huy 6,5 0,0
18 Iniyan P 6,5 0,0
19 Sengupta Deep 6,0 0,0
20 Sandipan Chanda 6,0 0,0

Brochure of the 3rd Kolkata International Chess Tournament.

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Aditya Pai is an ardent chess fan, avid reader, and a film lover. He holds a Master's in English Literature and used to work as an advertising copywriter before joining the ChessBase India team.
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