RTU Open: A massive turnout

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/11/2021 – The Riga Technical University Open is taking place on August 9-15 at the international exhibition centre Kipsala in the Latvian capital. The tournament sees 176 players fighting for a €17,100 prize fund. German GM Alexander Donchenko is the top seed, and is followed closely by nine other 2600+ rated players, including six grandmasters hailing from India. After three rounds, nine players still have a perfect score.

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Nine players still perfect

As more and more over-the-board tournaments are being organized worldwide, traditional European opens have also made a comeback. The Riga Technical University Festival is no exception, as it has attracted no fewer than 176 players to its main event, including 26 GMs and 24 IMs. 

With 38 players representing the host country, the second-largest contingent hails from India, with 27 representatives having made their way to the Latvian capital. Moreover, the top 20 in the starting rank includes 9 Indian grandmasters, headed by Nihal Sarin (aged 17), Sethuraman S.P. (28) and Aravindh Chithambaram (21). 

Nihal is the second seed in the 6-day, 9-round open tournament — German GM Alexander Donchenko is the highest-rated player in the field. While Donchenko drew in round 2 and lost his third-round game — against GM Ralf Akesson from Sweden (Elo 2395) — Nihal still has a perfect score going into round 4. The Indian prodigy is not alone atop the standings, though, as 8 other players also have a 3/3 score.

In the fourth round, Nihal will face his compatriot Arjun Erigaisi (also 17 years old), who made a strong impression at the recent Goldmoney Asian Rapid online tournament.

Pairings - Round 4 (top 5 boards)

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Erigaisi Arjun 3   3 Nihal Sarin
Pultinevicius Paulius 3   3 Narayanan.S.L
Hakobyan Aram 3   3 Puranik Abhimanyu
Grigorov Grigor 3   3 Smirin Ilia
Kovalenko Igor   3 Laurusas Tomas

...87 boards

Donchenko’s loss against Akesson saw both players trading errors in a double-edged position.


The Swedish grandmaster had just blundered by playing 40.Kh1, as the king move allows 40...Ng3+ 41.hxg3 Qh3+ 42.Kg1 Qxg3+ 43.Kh1 Qxd3 and Black is winning. However, this opportunity was missed by Donchenko, who played 40...Rxb3. Moreover, after 41.Ne5, the German blundered the game away with 41...Qh4.

Klaus Besenthal annotated the game in full.


Standings after round 3 (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Narayanan.S.L 3,0 4,0
2 Hakobyan Aram 3,0 4,0
3 Smirin Ilia 3,0 4,0
4 Puranik Abhimanyu 3,0 4,0
5 Erigaisi Arjun 3,0 4,0
6 Laurusas Tomas 3,0 4,0
7 Nihal Sarin 3,0 3,5
8 Pultinevicius Paulius 3,0 3,5
9 Grigorov Grigor 3,0 3,5
10 Kovalenko Igor 2,5 4,5
11 Kretainis Kristaps 2,5 4,0
12 Akesson Ralf 2,5 4,0
13 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2,5 4,0
14 Vignesh N R 2,5 4,0
15 Ivic Velimir 2,5 3,5
16 Arjun Kalyan 2,5 3,5
17 Pavlov Sergey 2,5 3,5
18 Visakh N R 2,5 3,5
19 Sanal Vahap 2,5 3,0
20 Ioannidis Evgenios 2,5 3,0

...176 players

All 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.


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