Sharjah Masters: Wang Hao is first among equals

by Albert Silver
4/3/2017 – The final round of the Sharjah Masters kept fans glued to their seats as they watched the final deciding games that would decide the podium. After the dust had settled, six players shared the score of 7.0/9, with Wang Hao from China taking first on tiebreak, followed by Baskaran Adhiban in second and Martyn Kravtsiv in third. Here is the final illustrated report with GM analysis from the players. | Photo: Maria Emelianova

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Reporting the results barely does justice to just how tense the final round was. With six players tied for first, and four entering the final round tied for first, one imagines that it was hardly all about quick handshakes and scoresheet signing.

Video report of round nine


Daniel King speaks with Wang Hao, Yuriy Kryvoruchko, Adhiban Baskara and Martyn Kravtsiv | Powerplay Chess on YouTube

The one game between actual leaders was more a formality, and Wang Hao and Yuriy Kryvoruchko only made a half-hearted attempt, more seeing whether either was feeling frisky or not, before shaking hands after 28 moves in a virtually symmetrical position.

This left them both with 7.0/9, but also meant that should either Adhiban or Kravtsiv win their games, they might take sole lead themselves. That said, they were also playing black and both faced 2700 opponents, so the odds were in favor of this not happening.

Top seed Radoslaw Wojtaszek fught valiantly but was unable to get into full gear | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Top seed Wojtaszek got an edge, and was certainly playing for a win, since with 6.0/8 he absolutely needed the full point to have a chance for a place on the podium. This was good news for Adhiban, playing black, since it meant the game would be a live one with chances of his own. With 6.5/8, a draw would put him on parity with the leaders, while a win could mean sole first. The Indian ended up worse for a good part of the game, so when he drew it, it was not an unhappy result for him.

Baskaran Adhiban managed to take second in the end | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Finally came Naiditsch with 6.0/8 and Kravtsiv with 6.5/8, in a similar strategical situation as Wojtaszek and Adhiban. The Ukrainian played an excellent game and after a long battle reached a completely won opposite-colored bishop ending. The rolling phalanx of pawns should have been a no-brainer, but instead the nerves and prospect of sole gold (by then he knew the results of his rival co-leaders) caused him to crack, and let Naiditsch escape with a nice finesse.

Arkadij Naiditsch vs Martyn Kravtsiv

[Event "1st Sharjah Masters 2017"] [Site "Sharjah"] [Date "2017.03.31"] [Round "9"] [White "Naiditsch, Arkadij"] [Black "Kravtsiv, Martyn"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2702"] [BlackElo "2641"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/1B5p/1b2pk2/5ppP/8/P4P2/6K1 w - - 0 48"] [PlyCount "40"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 48. a3 {Black has a crushing advantage, and the win should be fairly straightforward.} g3 $2 {Almost anything was better than this howler.} ({ The most obvious choice was} 48... h5 49. Kh2 Ke4 50. Bc7 g3+ $1 {with an important difference from the game:} 51. fxg3 f3 52. Bb6 Kd3 53. Kg1 Ke2) 49. fxg3 $17 fxg3 50. h5 $1 {A very fine move that effectively saves the half point now.} Kf4 ({If Black were to play} 50... Kg5 {with the intention of capturing the h5 pawn, White plays} 51. Be3+ Kxh5 52. Kg2 {and either the g3 or h6 pawn will fall with a tablebase draw.}) 51. Bc5 Kg4 52. Be3 Kxh5 53. Kg2 Kg4 54. Bxh6 Bc6+ 55. Kf1 Kf3 56. Bd2 e4 57. Be1 Ba4 58. Kg1 Bb5 59. Bb4 e3 60. Bd6 Bc6 61. Bc7 g2 62. Ba5 Ke2 63. Bb4 Kd1 {[#]} 64. a4 $1 e2 (64... Bxa4 65. Kxg2) 65. Kf2 Bxa4 66. Kxg2 $11 e1=Q 67. Bxe1 Kxe1 1/2-1/2

An epic battle that will leave Kravtsiv with a few regrets as he was poised to take sole first had he beat Naiditsch.

Arkadij Naiditsch resets the pieces as Martyn Kravtsiv signs his scoresheet | Photo: Maria Emelianova

S.P. Sethuraman was another Indian to take a piece from the podium pie as he won his last game against Akopian, which he presents below.

S.P. Sethuraman | Photo: Maria Emelianova

S.P. Sethuraman vs Vladimir Akopian

Coming in fifth place was Indian player Sethuraman, who knew that the only way to get a decent prize was to win his game, and win it he did, against Vladimir Akopian. Here he analyzes the final phase with Daniel King. 


Sethuraman with Daniel King | Powerplay Chess on YouTube

The final player to join the group on 7.0/9 was Salem Saleh, the local hero. Salem had had a dodgy start with only 2.0/4 in the start, but gained steam quickly and finished with an immaculate 5.0/5 beating Ukrainian Areschenko in the final round.

In the end, Wang Hao’s superb campaign also gave him the best tiebreak, and he took first, while Adhiban came in second, and Kravtsiv took third.

The top female prize went to Harika Dronavalli, easily the highest rated in the event. In the final round she drew Mikhaylo Oleksiyenko, rated 2643 and finished with 6.0/9.

Harika Dronavalli extends a hand to Mikhaylo Oleksiyenko | Photo: Maria Emelianova

A special mention to WFM Srija Seshadri, rated 2166, who scored 5½/9 with a 2428 performance!

WFM Srija Seshadri | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Matthias Bluebaum vs Ahmad Asgarizadeh

Matthias Bluebaum came into the final round higher rated and determined to win with white. Win he did in very short time, and he presents his miniature here.


Matthias Bluebam with Daniel King | Powerplay Chess on YouTube

Meet the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, the FIDE World Champion in 2004, has been extremely successful with the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2 with White and with Black. In over 4 hours of video, Rustam Kasimdzhanov explains all the important ideas, strategies and tricks helped by sample games in which the white side is represented, e.g., by Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik and Ivanchuk as well as the author himself.


After the round, kids gather around to analyze and play. Kids who score 2520 performances it should be noted, such as IM Praggnanandhaa and Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

IM Praggnanandhaa (in stripped shirt) | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Group photo with organizers, arbiters and winners

Group photo with organizers, arbiters and winners (click or tap to expand) | Photo: Maria Emelianova

Final standings

1 5 GM Wang Hao CHN 2683 7,0 47,0 12,0
2 6 GM Adhiban B. IND 2682 7,0 44,0 11,4
3 21 GM Kravtsiv Martyn UKR 2641 7,0 44,0 14,3
4 2 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2708 7,0 43,0 4,5
5 23 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2629 7,0 42,5 10,6
6 18 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2652 7,0 41,0 -1,9
7 4 GM Naiditsch Arkadij AZE 2702 6,5 46,5 -1,0
8 16 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2662 6,5 45,0 2,6
9 17 GM Amin Bassem EGY 2660 6,5 44,0 3,5
10 1 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2745 6,5 43,5 -3,8
11 45 GM Pichot Alan ARG 2556 6,5 43,5 8,2
12 28 GM Adly Ahmed EGY 2593 6,5 43,0 10,5
  47   Xu Yinglun CHN 2540 6,5 43,0 14,1
14 13 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2666 6,5 42,5 -6,3
15 36 GM Maghsoodloo Parham IRI 2576 6,5 41,5 9,9
16 15 GM Mareco Sandro ARG 2664 6,5 40,5 -0,9
17 8 GM Safarli Eltaj AZE 2680 6,5 40,5 -7,1
18 22 GM Bluebaum Matthias GER 2632 6,5 40,0 -0,9
19 54 IM Xu Xiangyu CHN 2503 6,5 39,0 16,5
20 12 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2673 6,0 45,5 -9,3
21 11 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2675 6,0 44,5 -5,3
22 7 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2682 6,0 42,5 -6,0
23 19 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2643 6,0 42,5 -8,2
24 50 GM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan IND 2526 6,0 42,0 6,8
25 31 GM Gledura Benjamin HUN 2588 6,0 41,5 4,6
26 73   Yakubboev Nodirbek UZB 2427 6,0 41,0 5,1
27 20 GM Oleksiyenko Mykhaylo UKR 2643 6,0 40,5 -9,7
  72 FM Abdusattorov Nodirbek UZB 2429 6,0 40,5 11,6
29 64 IM Narayanan Srinath IND 2472 6,0 40,5 14,4
30 59 GM Debashis Das IND 2480 6,0 40,0 5,1
31 65 IM Praggnanandhaa R IND 2455 6,0 39,5 10,5
32 27 GM Bok Benjamin NED 2596 6,0 39,5 -4,2
33 48 GM Harika Dronavalli IND 2539 6,0 39,0 8,4
34 42 IM Santos Latasa Jaime ESP 2565 6,0 38,5 -13,2
35 55 IM Stany G.A. IND 2495 6,0 36,0 0,3
36 10 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2676 5,5 47,0 -8,9
37 57 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. IND 2483 5,5 44,0 4,8
38 79 IM Vignesh N R IND 2405 5,5 42,5 18,1
39 38 GM Svane Rasmus GER 2570 5,5 41,5 -2,9
  49 GM Vishnu Prasanna. V IND 2534 5,5 41,5 -4,5

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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czzling czzling 4/4/2017 03:03
Nice coverage by Daniel King...well done sir.