TePe Sigeman & Co: Jones secures the win

by André Schulz
5/10/2019 – In the penultimate round at the TePe Sigeman & Co tournament, Gawain Jones took the sole lead with a victory over Tiger Hillarp Persson, while Harikrishna could only draw. The final round was set for drama as Jones faced Harikrishna head-to-head. But the English GM played solidly with the white pieces and offered a draw on move 21, which Harikrishna accepted, securing first and second places respectively for the duo.

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England's new number one

Gawain Jones not only secured his place atop the leader board with his seemingly effortless last round draw over Pentala Harikrishna, but he also further cemented his newfound 2700 status, rising to 2709 on the live Elo list, now at number 32 in the world rankings. Jones surpassed Michael Adams and posted an official rating over 2700 for the first time on FIDE's May list, becoming the English number one in the process.

Harikrishna and Jones were the two Elo heavyweights in the field of this year's TePe Sigeman & Co tournament in Malmö and both acquitted themselves well in their role as favourites. The Indian grandmaster remains well off his December 2016 peak of 2770, and has been second place behind Anand for many years. He has been steady in the range of 2720 to 2740 for almost two years and was coming off a strong showing in Shenzhen where he tripped up at the finish line, and had to settle for second.

Both led the field in Malmö after three rounds and added to their lead with wins in round four.

Harikrishna had to deal with his young compatriot Nihal Sarin, who is currently number 12 on the Indian national list at the age of fourteen, just surpassed the 2600 Elo mark and is rising fast. But Harikrishna is still in a higher class.


In the endgame with opposite coloured bishops, all trumps were with White, who won the game here with 46.xh6.

IM Sagar Shah broke down this ending as well as Hari's third round effort for ChessBase India (Harikrishna's endgame sorcery explained).


Gawain Jones had the better endgame in the fourth round himself, after a lively game against Ivan Saric.


With the clock ticking down before time control, White found the winning sequence 38.g5+. To avoid mate, Black played 38...b4 but lost a piece to 39.a3 a4 40.b3.

The other two games ended drawn and so the two front-runners were able to extend their lead to one point.

Results of Round 4


Click or tap any result to open the corresponding game via live.chessbase.com

Young talent Nihal Sarin

Sarin started the tournament with an Elo rating of 2598 and ended up with 3 out of 7 — just below the 50-percent mark. However, he expressed satisfaction with his performance of 2624 after the tournament:

Sarin lost two of his seven games, with four draws, but he beat the 2018 World Junior Champion Parham Maghsoodloo in round five. Sarin decided the game with a neat tactical trick:


White wins the black queen with 31.d6! Maghsoodloo gets two rooks for it after 31...cxd6 32.xd6 c6 33.xe6 xe6 but his remaining forces are so poorly coordinated that it's an easy win for White.

Results of Round 5


In Wednesday's penultimate round, Harikrishna struggled to gain any advantage against Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu's French, and ultimately had to settle for a draw with the white pieces.


Nisipeanu is headed for a draw

Meanwhile, Jones scored a point thanks to fierce play against Tiger Hillarp Persson. In the English opening, the English number one had taken the initiative with Black soon after the opening. 


Tiger had spent 21 minutes on each of his prior two moves, and here Jones went prospecting with 14...g5. After 15.e2 he prevented the exchange of dark-squared bishops with 15...e5 and then expanded on the kingside with 16...g6 and 17...g4. Hillarp Persson countered in the centre, which resulted in the following position.


White eyes the weak f6 square. However, Jones played 22...xd4 23.xd4 f5 and the pin against the knight on e4 spells trouble for White. He tried 24.xd6 but that ran into 24...xd6! 25.xd6 ♜xe1 — a powerful refutation. After 26.f1 e5, White was nearly lost.

Hillarp Persson againstJones


The second decision on the day was in the game between Nils Grandelius and Nihal Sarin. The young Indian grandmaster had come under pressure in the Rossolimo variation of the Sicilian defence, but got counterplay.


Here, Black could have played well with 22...♚f7. Instead, Sarin unthinkingly played 22...e5. Grandelius pounced with 23.g5 (with the threat of g4, trapping the black queen). There is no escape as even the counter-punch 23...d4 failed to 24.xd4 fxg5 25.d7 (25.♖e4 is even stronger). Black is de facto down a rook.

The other two games ended in a draw.

Results of Round 6


In the final round with Black against Jones, Harikrishna did not tempt fate by taking undue risks. In an Italian game, the players followed Jones' March game with GM Petr Kostenko from the recent World Team Championship until the move 8.e3:


In the predecessor, Jones took on e3, but Harikrishna opted for 8...O-O and after 9.bd2 e7 10.xa7 xa7 11.b3 was the first new move (Bologan vs Short, 2017, continued 11.a5).

Harikrishna said afterwards that he had not looked at the ♗e3 line, but Jones remembered several details. Harikrishna reluctantly accepted Jones' draw offer but felt that it was the pragmatic decision.

Interview with Jones and Harikrishna

"I was very pleased, of course, with the tournament...I feel very lucky with my plus three", Jones said.

Final standings


All games



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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