Tata Steel India: Shakh and Nana on 3 out of 3

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/30/2022 – The Tata Steel Chess India event kicked off on Tuesday in Kolkata. Each of the two tournaments has a sole leader with 3 out of 3 after the first day of rapid chess. In the open, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has taken the lead, while among the women, Nana Dzagnidze tops the standings with six rounds to go in the rapid section of the event. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Shakh still perfect, Naka loses two in a row

Not only did Shakhriyar Mamedyarov score three wins in as many games at the start of the Tata Steel Chess India event, but he also defeated two of his most dangerous opponents in the field. Shakh kicked off the event with a win over 16-year-old prodigy Gukesh, one of the Indian stars that could easily take the tournament by storm. Then, after beating Sethuraman with white, the Azerbaijani got the better of Wesley So with the black pieces — a victory that might end up deciding the winner of the event down the road.

The early leader has a full-point lead going into the second day of action, with two Indian youngsters sharing second place after three rounds. Both Arjun Erigaisi and Nihal Sarin scored a win and two draws to end the day on 2 out of 3.

Meanwhile, the perennial favourite (if Magnus Carlsen is absent) in rapid-play tournaments did not have a good day at the office. Hikaru Nakamura drew Nihal with black in the first round before losing twice in a row, first against So and then against Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Notably, the US grandmaster will face Mamedyarov in Wednesday’s first round — a great chance to get started with a potential comeback.

Arjun Erigaisi, Nihal Sarin

In shared second place ­— Arjun Erigaisi and Nihal Sarin | Photo: Lennart Ootes

So’s brilliant technique

In the all-American clash between Nakamura and So, the latter came out on top. Playing black, he found the most efficient way to convert his vast strategic advantage in an endgame with rooks and bishops.


Note how the black rook could potentially give a check from a3 and capture the bishop on f3. But to do so effectively, the white pawns on e3 and g2 should ideally leave the board or be forced out of their current squares.

Thus, So forced matters with 85...h3 86.gxh3 (one of the pawns has been displaced) and then 86...d4+ (see diagram below), when 87.exd4 would allow the aforementioned check.


Nakamura replied by 87.Kc2, but his position is still dead lost. Resignation came soon after.

Wesley So

Wesley So | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Video: How did he find this move? Sagar interviews Shakh

As usual, the ChessBase India team is uploading a plethora of magnificent content to YouTube!

Standings after round 3


All games


Nana leads

One of the most experienced players in the women’s section grabbed the lead in Kolkata. Georgian star Nana Dzagnidze could have lost her first game against Savitha Shri, the youngest player in the field, but the Indian rising star failed to find a winning tactical shot and ended up losing the game. Dzagnidze then defeated Vaishali Rameshbabu and Oliwia Kiolbasa to finish the day with a perfect score.

Much like in the open, the sole leader among the women has a full-point lead after three rounds. However, the chasing group in the women’s tournament consists of four players, with two Ukrainian former world champions — Anna Ushenina and Mariya Muyzchuk — and the two strongest Indian players — Humpy Koneru and Harika Dronavalli — ready to make things difficult for the Georgian.

Anna Ushenina

Anna Ushenina | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Savitha’s missed chance

We would be telling a whole different story in the women’s event had Savitha found a rather simple tactical shot in her game against Dzagnidze. Nerves are likely to have played a role for the youngster, as this opportunity presented itself in the first round, against a strong opponent, and in a large auditorium!


Dzagnidze here blundered with 27...Bxa6 (normal moves like 27...Nc7 or 27...Kg7 are perfectly playable), allowing 28.Ne7+, with a deadly fork. Not only would White get a material edge, but she would also quickly get to place her rooks on open files, with a winning advantage.

However, Savitha missed her chance and almost instantly played 28.Nxa6, with a balanced position. The Georgian went on to outplay her young opponent in the queenless position.

Tata Steel Chess India 2022

Top-notch chess in a top-notch setting | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Video: Anna goes all-in, Humpy defends

As usual, the ChessBase India team is uploading a plethora of magnificent content to YouTube!

Standings after round 3


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.