Nihal and Ushenina win Tata Steel India Rapid tournaments

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/2/2022 – The 9-round rapid tournaments — open and women’s — at the Tata Steel India Chess event came to an end on Thursday. Nihal Sarin had a dominating performance in the open, securing first place with a round to spare after collecting back-to-back wins over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Parham Maghsoodloo. Earlier in the day, Anna Ushenina had defeated Nana Dzagnidze in blitz tiebreaks to claim the women’s title. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Nihal wins with a round to spare

Nihal Sarin, the 18-year-old prodigy from Kerala, entered the final day of action at the rapid section of the Tata Steel India event in sole first place. The youngster had a full-point lead over the experienced Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and his friend Arjun Erigaisi. Crucially, in the first game of the day, he was paired up against the streaky Shakh, who had started the event with three wins in as many games.

Playing black, Nihal managed to take down his Azerbaijani opponent, while chaser Arjun only managed to collect a half point in his game against Parham Maghsoodllo, which meant the leader had now a 1½-point advantage with two rounds to go. 

A convincing win over Maghsoodloo with the white pieces followed, securing the rising star overall victory with a round to spare. 

In July last year, only days before turning 17, Nihal grabbed consecutive tournament wins at the Silver Lake Open and the Serbia Chess Open, thus joining the world top 100 for the first time in his young career. A bit over a year later, he is now number 70 in the latest classical-chess list published by FIDE and, thanks to his victory in Kolkata, he has gained no less than 27.4 rating points in rapid, climbing to number 53 in the live ranking.

Arjun Erigaisi

Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Also remarkable was Arjun’s performance in the rapid. A friend of Nihal, Arjun was the only player other than the winner to end the tournament with a plus score. Moreover, the 19-year-old got to score back-to-back wins over none other than Hikaru Nakamura and Nihal himself in the final two rounds of the event.

Arjun had a breakthrough victory at this very event last year. After beating Nihal, he joined Vishy Anand and Tania Sachdev to analyse his win, and showed a line that prompted Anand to state: “That is simply one of the most beautiful lines I have ever heard”. Find it below.


Check out Nihal’s amazing endgame knowledge in his visit to K. Müller’s Magic Show

Video: Nihal beats Maghsoodloo to win the titile

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

Final standings


All games


Ushenina catches Dzagnidze, wins tiebreaks

The women’s tournament had a more exciting final day regarding the fight for first place. Nana Dzagnidze had led the event from the very start and had a half-point advantage over a four-player chasing pack. 

The sole leader kicked off the day with a win over Vantika Agrawal, and only Anna Ushenina managed to keep up the pace, as she defeated Mariya Muzychuk with the white pieces. Round 8 saw Dzagnidze drawing Anna Muzychuk with black, while Ushenina caught up with her by taking down Savitha Shri. Draws for the two co-leaders in the final round meant tournament victory would be decided in blitz tiebreakers.

By then, Harika Dronavalli had secured sole third place on 5½/9 points. Besides Dzagnidze and Ushenina, Harika was the only other player to finish the tournament undefeated.

Harika Dronavalli

Harika Dronavalli | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Dzagnidze got to play white in the first game of the tiebreaks, but it was Ushenina who got ahead on the scoreboard. The Ukrainian gained an outside passed pawn in a position with rooks and opposite-coloured bishops, and duly converted her advantage into a 37-move victory.

Despite only needing a draw with white in the second encounter, Ushenina did not hesitate to grab the initiative once she got a chance. By move 19, she already had a winning advantage.


19.Rxc5 gets rid of a key defender. After 19...bxc5 20.f5 Re5 21.Bg5, there is no black bishop to defend the weakened dark squares around the king. 


Dzagnidze resigned.

Anna Ushenina

Tournament winner Anna Ushenina | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Anna Muzychuk, Nana Dzagnidze

Anna Muzychuk facing Nana Dzagnidze in round 7 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Video: A must-see knight endgame

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

Final standings


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.