Qatar Masters: Arjun enters final round as sole leader

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/20/2023 – Round 8 of the Qatar Masters saw Arjun Erigaisi beating David Paravyan to enter Friday’s final round as the sole leader, with six players standing a half point behind. Among these six chasers are Hikaru Nakamura and Nodirbek Abdusattorov — Arjun’s rival in round 9 — who both grabbed wins on Thursday. Former co-leaders Karthikeyan Murali, Narayanan S.L., Javokhir Sindarov and Nodirbek Yakubboev still have chances to win the event as well. | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Six players at a half-point distance

Following an exciting seventh round which saw Karthikeyan Murali upsetting Magnus Carlsen, six players topped the standings with 5½ points each at the Qatar Masters.

In round 8, out of the three games featuring a clash of co-leaders, only one finished decisively, with sixth seed Arjun Erigaisi beating David Paravyan on board 3 (Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura play all their games on fixed boards, the first and the second).

Before Arjun collected the crucial win, though, Abhimanyu Puranik ended Anish Giri’s hopes of making a last-minute run for tournament victory. The Indian grandmaster thought for half an hour before giving up his queen to enter a forced drawing line.

12.Qxf7+ is the strongest move in the position, leading to a forced repetition — i.e. any other move grants an advantage for Black. After 12...Kxf7 13.Nxe6 Qa5 14.Nc7+ Black cannot escape the checks without making major concessions.

By this point Giri knew there was no way around it, as he silently agreed to a draw by allowing a perpetual check: 14...Kf8 15.Ne6+ 15.Kf7, etc.

Game analysis by Robert Ris

Arjun, on his part, found a tactical sequence that left him in the driver’s seat in a position that looks completely balanced at first sight.

Paravyan, playing black against one of the tournament favourites, mistakenly offered a trade of queens two moves ago. What he had missed in his calculations is that after the queen swap, White can play 17.Bxb5 — the idea is that after the forced 17...axb5 18.Nxb5 Ra6 19.Nxd6 Rxd6, White can gain an exchange with 20.Ba3

Arjun not only emerged with a rook and two pawns for two minor pieces — but what two pawns! The connected passers guaranteed him a long-standing advantage, which he proficiently converted into a 48-move victory.

Paravyan resigned in this position. Note that the passers on the a and b-files are still alive, and now have two connected colleagues in an identical configuration a few squares to the right.

Arjun Erigaisi, David Paravyan

Arjun Erigaisi facing David Paravyan | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Standing a half point behind Arjun are six players. Besides former co-leaders Karthikeyan, Narayanan S.L., Javokhir Sindarov and Nodirbek Yakubboev, the powerful duo of Hikaru Nakamura and Nodirbek Abdusattorov now belong to the chasing pack, as they both scored victories in Thursday’s eighth round.

Abdusattorov will play white against the leader in the final round, while Nakamura will have the black pieces against Narayanan.

In case of a tie for first place, a playoff will decide the winner of the event.

Completely out of contention for first place is perennial favourite Magnus Carlsen, who nonetheless obtained a nice win over experienced grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov, a United States Hall of Fame inductee.

GM Karsten Müller analysed Carlsen’s round-8 victory.

Standings after round 8

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Erigaisi, Arjun 6,5 0
2 Narayanan.S.L, 6 0
3 Sindarov, Javokhir 6 0
4 Nakamura, Hikaru 6 0
5 Karthikeyan, Murali 6 0
6 Yakubboev, Nodirbek 6 0
7 Abdusattorov, Nodirbek 6 0
8 Paravyan, David 5,5 0
9 Maghsoodloo, Parham 5,5 0
10 Giri, Anish 5,5 0
11 Shimanov, Aleksandr 5,5 0
12 Salem, A.R. Saleh 5,5 0
13 Carlsen, Magnus 5,5 0
14 Gukesh, D 5,5 0
Sethuraman, S.P. 5,5 0
16 Puranik, Abhimanyu 5,5 0
17 Oparin, Grigoriy 5,5 0
18 Kuybokarov, Temur 5,5 0
19 Gupta, Abhijeet 5,5 0
20 Zou, Chen 5 0

...158 players

All available games


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.