Qatar Masters: Carlsen on the attack, Kushagra upsets Fedoseev

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/12/2023 – Super-GMs Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Anish Giri kicked off with wins at the Qatar Masters in Doha. Round 1 saw a few upsets though, with fourth seed Dommaraju Gukesh only managing a draw against IM Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh, and tenth seed Vladimir Fedoseev even losing to 19-year-old Indian IM Kushagra Mohan. The highest-rated woman player in the field, Bibisara Assaubayeva, also suffered a loss in the first round, against IM Rakesh Kumar Jena. | Photos: Qatar Chess Association

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Over a hundred Indian players

Out of the 252 players registered to play in the main tournament of the Qatar Masters, 102 hail from India. The second country with the largest number of representatives is Qatar, with 18 players, while Uzbekistan and the United States have 14 and 10 registered players, respectively.

Given these statistics, it is not surprising that many pairings featured all-Indian matchups in the first round. And it was once again proven that the depth of talent in the South Asian country is truly impressive. Some of the strongest Indian players in Qatar were, in fact, held to draws by much lower-rated compatriots: Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh (rated 2432) drew Gukesh D (2758), Hari Madhavan N B (2408) drew Aravindh Chithamabaram (2649) and Divya Deshmukh (2408) drew Aryan Chopra (2634).

Moreover, the biggest upset of the day was also obtained by an Indian IM, as 19-year-old Kushagra Mohan got the better of Vladimir Fedoseev on board 10.

Shortly before reaching the time control on move 40, Kushagra had a big positional advantage, with a much stronger minor piece and control over the open c-file.

After 37.Rc8, Black is completely tied up — for example, an attempt to free the knight with 37...Nc6 fails immediately to 38.Bxc6 bxc6 39.Qf7+ Qb7 40.Rc7.

Engines give 37...Re1+ and 38...Qg1 as Black’s best alternative, which merely creates a few tactical problems for White, but does not solve his strategic problems.

A talented tactician, Fedoseev tried to create complications for his young opponent, but Kushagra was not going to let this one slip away, as he went on to convert his advantage into a 50-move win.

Qatar Chess Masters 2023

Carlsen wins in 23 moves, Giri and Naka also grab full points

Facing 18-year-old Srihari L R — also an Indian IM — perennial favourite Magnus Carlsen correctly opted to go for a kingside attack when Srihari neglected his monarch’s defences.

Black just captured on c3, forking the (disconnected) white rooks. Carlsen entirely ignored this fact and replied by 18.Qg4, going all-in for the attack.

The Norwegian’s decision turned out to be correct: there followed 18...Kg7 19.e4 Bxa1 20.Bg5 Qb4 21.f6+

There is no escaping the infiltration along the dark squares.

Magnus Carlsen

Hikaru Nakamura and Anish Giri needed to work much harder to grab full points on the first day of action. Playing white against Rohith Krishna S — yet another young IM from India — Giri had an extra knight in a double-edged rook endgame with passed pawns on both sides of the board.

Engines show zeroes in this position, despite the extra piece.

But only 45...g2 draws for Black, since after 46.Rg5 Kf6, there are not enough squares available on the g-file for the white rook to escape the black king’s harassment — or, if the rook goes to g3, Black gets to play ...f5-f4 (diagram), and it is White who needs to be careful.

48.Rg8 actually loses for White here, due to 48...Rf3+ 49.Ke2 Rg3. Both 48.Rxg2 and 48.Rg4 draw, though. (Let us not forget, however, that White had a big advantage with his extra piece earlier in the game.)

None of this appeared on the board, as Rohith went for 45...Rf3+ in the first diagrammed position, losing a key tempo and allowing Giri to regroup. From this point on, the Dutch star showed proper technique until collecting the full point five moves later.

Round 2 pairings

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Suleymenov, Alisher 1 1 Carlsen, Magnus *)
Nakamura, Hikaru *) 1 1 Dai, Changren
Bharath, Subramaniyam H 1 1 Giri, Anish
Mousavi, Seyed Khalil 1 1 Abdusattorov, Nodirbek
Erigaisi, Arjun 1 1 Abdisalimov, Abdimalik
Madaminov, Mukhiddin 1 1 Maghsoodloo, Parham
Van Foreest, Jorden 1 1 Xiao, Tong(Qd)
Sindarov, Javokhir 1 1 Nogerbek, Kazybek
Stearman, Josiah 1 1 Narayanan.S.L,
Salem, A.R. Saleh 1 1 Stany, G.A.
Muthaiah, Al 1 1 Mendonca, Leon Luke
Puranik, Abhimanyu 1 1 Chen, Qi B
Gagare, Shardul 1 1 Yakubboev, Nodirbek
Baskin, Robert 1 1 Gupta, Abhijeet
Vakhidov, Jakhongir 1 1 Nitish, Belurkar
Sethuraman, S.P. 1 1 Vaishali, Rameshbabu
Shyaamnikhil, P 1 1 Jumabayev, Rinat
Kuybokarov, Temur 1 1 Kushagra, Mohan
Bakhrillaev, Bakhrom 1 1 Pranav, V
Vokhidov, Shamsiddin 1 1 Audi, Ameya

...79 boards

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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.