Sharjah: Theodorou upsets Arjun, Niemann hunts down Vakhidov’s king

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/16/2024 – Nikolas Theodorou scored the biggest upset of the second round at the Sharjah Masters, as he defeated top seed Arjun Erigaisi with ease after the latter misjudged his opponent’s attack. Theodorou is one of eight players tied for first place with 2/2 points. Also in the leading group is Hans Niemann, who obtained an eye-catching, attacking victory over Jakhongir Vakhidov. | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

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Eight players on 2/2

The second round of the Sharjah Masters saw eight players obtaining a second consecutive victory to remain atop the standings. Only two players from the top-10 in the starting rank belong to this group: Amin Tabatabaei and Vladimir Fedoseev. Meanwhile, the lowest-rated co-leaders are Marcin Krzyzanowski, who upset Abhimanyu Mishra, and Nikolas Theodorou, who upset top seed Arjun Erigaisi.

The remaining four co-leaders are Hans Niemann, Aravindh Chithambaram, Volodar Murzin and Saleh Salem.

After losing to Theodorou, Arjun is not the only top-10 player (among the participants) to stand a full-point behind the co-leaders. Teimour Radjabov and Vladislav Artemiev also have collected 1 point so far, though they did it by drawing their first two encounters.

Things are going even worse for eighth seed Andrey Esipenko, who drew Ediz Gurel and was defeated by Daneshvar Bardiya in the first two rounds of the event.

Amin Tabatabaei

Fifth seed Amin Tabatabaei is tied for first after obtaining wins over Pranav V and Vasyl Ivanchuk | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Theodorou 1 - 0 Arjun

Analysis by Shahid Ahmed

Greece’s number two Nikolas Theodorou (2616) had faced Arjun Erigaisi (2761) only once in a classical rated game, at the 2023 Dubai Open. Arjun checkmated him in 28 moves. This time, Theodorou got his revenge in exactly 28 moves.

24...a5? ignoring the attack on the e6-pawn proved to be fatal for Black. 25.Nxe6 Nxe6 26.Rxe6 Rd7 27.Qg4 Rf8 28.Qg6 and now the threat of Bc2, Qh7+ and Bg6# can only be stopped by giving up a lot of material.

Niemann 1 - 0 Vakhidov

Analysis by Shahid Ahmed

Jakhongir Vakhidov’s decision to play an adventurous opening with black backfired against a tactically alert Hans Niemann.

26.Rxc5+! begins the king hunt. After 26...Bxc5, try to calculate the other lines and find out why 26.Rxc5+ works.

Feel free to play through the winning sequence on our interactive diagram: 27.Rc1 Kb6 28.Bxf6 Qh6 29.Nd7+ Bxd7 30.a5+ Kxa5 31.Qc7+ Bb6 32.Ra1+ Kb4 33.Qxb6 Kxb3 34.Qxd4 Rhc8 35.Qxd5+ Kc2 36.Bg5+ and it’s over. A beautiful king hunt which extracted the king from c7 to d2 via b6-a5-b4-b3-c2.

Hans Niemann

Hans Niemann | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Standings after round 2

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Krzyzanowski, Marcin 2 0
2 Tabatabaei, M. Amin 2 0
3 Fedoseev, Vladimir 2 0
4 Niemann, Hans Moke 2 0
5 Aravindh, Chithambaram Vr. 2 0
6 Murzin, Volodar 2 0
7 Salem, A.R. Saleh 2 0
8 Theodorou, Nikolas 2 0
9 Daneshvar, Bardiya 1,5 0
10 Sankalp, Gupta 1,5 0
11 Kacharava, Nikolozi 1,5 0
12 Sarana, Alexey 1,5 0
13 Nguyen, Thai Dai Van 1,5 0
14 Ter-Sahakyan, Samvel 1,5 0
15 Yu, Yangyi 1,5 0
16 Sindarov, Javokhir 1,5 0
17 Puranik, Abhimanyu 1,5 0
18 Yuffa, Daniil 1,5 0
19 Siddharth, Jagadeesh 1,5 0
20 Maghsoodloo, Parham 1,5 0
21 Maurizzi, Marc`andria 1,5 0
22 Aditya, Mittal 1,5 0
23 Shankland, Sam 1,5 0
Yakubboev, Nodirbek 1,5 0
25 Petrosyan, Manuel 1,5 0

...88 players

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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.
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