Sharjah Masters: Gukesh, Sevian and Oparin co-leaders

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/23/2023 – Round 6 of the Sharjah Masters saw Dommaraju Gukesh taking down former sole leader Haik Martirosyan with the white pieces. Sam Sevian and Grigoriy Oparin also won on Monday and are now sharing the lead with Gukesh. Twelve players stand a half point back, including Uzbek rising star Nodirbek Yakubboev, who upset top seed Parham Maghsoodloo in what turned out to be an eventful sixth round. | Photos: Tournament’s Facebook page

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Gukesh beats former sole leader Martirosyan

Haik Martirosyan became the sole leader of the Sharjah Masters after beating Ju Wenjun in Sunday’s fifth round. The Armenian converted a knight versus bishop endgame (analysed below by GM Karsten Müller) to beat the women’s world champion. The very next day, though, Martirosyan was bested by Dommaraju Gukesh in yet another technical ending. Gukesh thus climbed to first place with 4½/6 points.

Two other players from the chasing pack, both representing the United States, also won on Tuesday and are now sharing the lead with Gukesh — i.e. Grigoriy Oparin and Sam Sevian. Oparin defeated Hans Niemann after the latter miscalculated in a double-edged position, while Sevian got the better of Australian GM Temur Kuybokarov.

It was a particularly good day for Oparin. The MA Candidate at the University of Missouri is also participating in Division II of the (online) ChessKid Cup, where he defeated Le Tuan Minh by a 2½-½ score shortly after beating Niemann in Sharjah.

Raunak Sadhwani, who was upset by Mahammad Muradli in the UAE, is also playing in the ChessKid Cup. Sadhwani beat Mamikon Gharibyan in Division II’s round-of-16.

Tuesday’s round 7 in Sharjah will see Gukesh playing white against Sevian, while Oparin will get the black pieces against fourth seed Yu Yangyi on board 2.

Sam Sevian

Sam Sevian

Gukesh 1 - 0 Martirosyan

In a materially balanced endgame with rooks and knights, Gukesh had the better pawn structure against Martirosyan. The Armenian decided not to simplify into a pure knight ending in the following position.

Martirosyan thought for over six minutes before playing 36...Re5 instead of 36...Nxf2. Both moves keep the balance, but perhaps the Armenian later regretted not having simplified the position when he got a chance. Defending the pure knight endgame is not at all trivial, though!

Gukesh eventually reached a rook ending with 2 v 1 pawns on opposite flanks. Tablebases gave the position as winning for white during most of the remainder of the game — although Martirosyan did get a few chances to escape.

Both 55...f4+ and 55...Ke4 are given as drawn by the tablebases, while Martirosyan’s 55...Rb1 again leaves White in the driver’s seat. Gukesh did not falter again from this point on, and went on to grab a 74-move win.

Haik Martirosyan

Haik Martirosyan

Oparin 1 - 0 Niemann

On board 3, Niemann blundered against Oparin in a position in which his king was temporarily more vulnerable than his opponent’s.

30...Rf7 is not the right way to deal with the attack on the light-squared bishop (30...Ba8 or 30...Bc8 are both okay). Oparin quickly found 31.Qa2+, when 31...Bd5 — perhaps what Niemann had foreseen from afar — fails to 32.Rc8+

Black resigned.

Grigoriy Oparin, Hans Niemann

Grigoriy Oparin beat Hans Niemann in round 6

Martirosyan 1 - 0 Ju

Analysis from round 5 by GM Karsten Müller

Standings - Round 6

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Sevian, Samuel 4,5 0
2 Gukesh, D 4,5 0
3 Oparin, Grigoriy 4,5 0
4 Nihal, Sarin 4 0
5 Kovalev, Vladislav 4 0
6 Praggnanandhaa, R 4 0
7 Aryan, Chopra 4 0
8 Tabatabaei, M. Amin 4 0
9 Sjugirov, Sanan 4 0
10 Yu, Yangyi 4 0
11 Korobov, Anton 4 0
12 Yakubboev, Nodirbek 4 0
13 Esipenko, Andrey 4 0
14 Martirosyan, Haik M. 4 0
15 Petrosyan, Manuel 4 0
16 Cheparinov, Ivan 3,5 0
17 Kadric, Denis 3,5 0
18 Yilmaz, Mustafa 3,5 0
19 Suleymanli, Aydin 3,5 0
20 Niemann, Hans Moke 3,5 0

...78 players

Pairings - Round 7

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Sevian, Samuel Gukesh, D
Yu, Yangyi 4 Oparin, Grigoriy
Korobov, Anton 4 4 Sjugirov, Sanan
Yakubboev, Nodirbek 4 4 Praggnanandhaa, R
Esipenko, Andrey 4 4 Nihal, Sarin
Tabatabaei, M. Amin 4 4 Petrosyan, Manuel
Martirosyan, Haik M. 4 4 Aryan, Chopra
Niemann, Hans Moke 4 Kovalev, Vladislav
Erigaisi, Arjun Azarov, Sergei
Kuybokarov, Temur Salem, A.R. Saleh
Kadric, Denis Sindarov, Javokhir
Cheparinov, Ivan Vakhidov, Jakhongir
Nguyen, Thai Dai Van Mchedlishvili, Mikheil
Murzin, Volodar Yilmaz, Mustafa
Abasov, Nijat Suleymanli, Aydin

...39 boards

All games - Round 6

Replay games from all rounds at


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.