The ‘Age of Arjun Erigaisi’ begins with a monumental triumph at Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid

by Shahid Ahmed
11/20/2021 – Arjun Erigaisi started hitting the next level at Goldmoney Asian Rapid this past summer when he ended Aronian’s undefeated streak at the event. The healthy rivalry with Aronian began since then. The most anticipated match of the event between Aronian and Arjun did not disappoint. It delivered everything one can fathom — there was action, drama and high stakes in a high-tension match which showcased Arjun’s another quality which the majority of the Indian youth possess: true grit. No matter how adverse things might get, one needs to have the courage to fight back, even if your opponent is the mighty, only two-time World Cup winner in the history of chess. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Only Praggnanandhaa remains undefeated

Praggnanandhaa holds the unique distinction of the only player beating the eventual champion, Arjun Erigaisi. He is also the only player who remained undefeated. The tournament lineup selection has truly been fantastic as there was no theoretical or quick uneventful draws. There was plenty of fighting chess, creative play and some beautiful positions and executions. The tournament was the perfect example of what super tournaments should have: a great mix of world-class players along with the youth.

“I think it’s a huge discovery for India. For him, it’s a great boost of confidence and maybe for us, we have discovered a star.” - Vishy Anand on how important Arjun Erigaisi’s triumph is for the Indian chess at this stage.

“Before the game, I was trying to calm myself down, be normal and play as I usually do. As the game started, I started feeling nervous and especially after I got into a bad position, I was really regretting my previous draw with white. In the end, I am very happy”- Arjun Erigaisi on his mindset before and during the game against Levon Aronian, one whom he was looking forward to play since the ‘Draw of lots’.

Round 7: Shankland - Liem: 1-0

Although the rook, knight and few pawns’ endgame seem relatively equal, it is very easy to go wrong, especially when you are down on the clock and not in your best shape.


The human instinct tells us to bring the king towards the queenside to prevent the pawn promotion. Only when we remove the practical aspects, one can see it may not work the way Black wants it to be. Shankland, having a very strong endgame knowledge, correctly punished his opponent for the mistake. 41...Ke7 42.a5 Kd8 43.Nc5 Kc8 44.Re2 Ne5 45.f4 Nd3 46.Re8+ and it’s all over for Black. Not only Black is unable to prevent the white rook’s entry but also both white rook and knight get better placed, and it helps to push the protected passed pawn on the a-file.


Shankland shook off the cobwebs from previous day’s 19-move loss against Arjun and managed to hand Liem his third consecutive loss of the event | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Adhiban - Arjun: 0.5-0.5

They say decisions are always correct — only in retrospect we realize where it went wrong. Playing high-quality chess against strong opponents definitely takes a toll on a person. In the eighth round, Arjun for the first time since his loss against Praggnanandhaa in the second round, made a subtle inaccurate decision probably also due to time scramble, which shifted the balance in Adhiban’s favour.


White has decisive advantage in the above position. However, White needs to choose the correct direction in which he should move the king. Where would it be? The game continued 42.Kc3 which led to a draw.


It is not easy to rattle Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 8: Karthikeyan - Parham: 1-0

After drawing four consecutive games, Karthikeyan Murali scored his first win since Round 2, as he beat Parham Maghsoodloo by launching a devastating attack on his kingside.


32...Qb4 is a mistake. It is time to beat Parham in his own game. Try to think like Karthikeyan and find out the plan here.


Karthikeyan ends win drought by crushing Parham with a devastating attack on his kingside | Video: ChessBase India

Vaishali - Aronian: 0.5-0.5

Like I mentioned in previous day’s report, Vaishali has played fantastic chess in this event, although the results may not reflect it. That changed on the final day as she drew with Aronian, in a game where we once again got a glimpse of the ever-creative Aronian.


17...Kd8 is a unique move, something that can only come in someone like Aronian’s mind. He had decisive advantage for the better part of the game — however, Vaishali fought back well and managed to salvage a draw.


Vaishali’s draw turned out to be crucial for Arjun | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Arjun - Vidit: 0.5-0.5

Arjun Erigaisi had the shortest game of the tournament against Vidit Gujrathi. It was a 12-move draw, which he almost regretted when his position turned worse against Aronian in the final round.


Fastest result of Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid: Arjun Erigaisi vs. Vidit Gujrathi | Video: ChessBase India

Round 9: Aronian - Arjun: 0.5-0.5

Arjun opted for the trusty Petroff Defence against Aronian. It is known to be solid for Black as it gives him a good chance to get a draw, which is exactly what he needed to win the tournament.


White had a decisive advantage for quite some time, and everyone thought Aronian may play a spoilsport in Arjun’s breakout performance. Thankfully, that did not happen and White made the mistake of playing 35.Qe7 which allowed Black to get back in the game: 35...Qxa4. 35.f5 would have moved White closer towards victory. Anyway, Arjun started munching his opponent’s pawns. Eventually the d6-pawn did not prove to be enough for White, and Black found a perpetual check which led to a draw. Thus, Arjun won his career’s biggest tournament — Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid.


Final moments of Arjun Erigaisi winning Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid | Video: ChessBase India

That move which everyone missed but Arjun Erigaisi found! | Video: ChessBase India

Arjun Erigaisi about to earn his career’s biggest triumph so far | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Paper wraps rock | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Determined, Arjun does not want to lose rock-papers-scissors battle | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Arjun finally concurs to, like the gentlemen both of them are | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Vishy + Arjun speech immediately after Arjun’s Tata Steel India Rapid Victory | Video: ChessBase India

Arjun Erigaisi reveals his secret coach after winning the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid 2021 | Video: ChessBase India

Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid Day 3 Press Conference | Video: ChessBase India

Photo Gallery

First move is being made by a 5-year-old little kid | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Can you identify the fists? | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Chess connects the chess lovers | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Making the legend happy — a moment which Arjun will cherish for the rest of his life | Photo: Lennart Ootes

One of those moments where the maestro’s words only should be audible to Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Arjun, Anand and Sagar share a happy moment | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Some clips to watch

Replay Round 7-9 games


Final Standings after Round 9

Final Standings of Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid after Round 9 | Photo: Tata Steel Chess India 2021

Tata Steel Chess India 2021 Rapid Round 7-9 | Live commentary by IM Tania Sachdev, IM Sagar Shah and Samay Raina | Video: ChessBase India


Shahid Ahmed is the senior coordinator and editor of ChessBase India. He enjoys covering chess tournaments and also likes to play in chess events from time to time.
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Michael Jones Michael Jones 11/20/2021 08:34
Calm down... the guy's won one rapid tournament. It's certainly a notable achievement, but hardly an indication that a new "age" has started. He isn't ranked in the top 100 in any format.

Also, the report makes the claim "there was no theoretical or quick uneventful draws", then shows us the game Arjun-Vidit which lasted 12 moves? I guess the author must think that counts as a protracted struggle.
Mr Toad Mr Toad 11/20/2021 03:38
The quibble in my previous comment was not intended to deman this fantastic tournament. Now I look properly at the event I can see how rich in content and excitement it was.

As weak player I would appreciate a follow up article in which some of the various key moves mentioned here could be explained more fully - I could not figure out the subsequent play for myself. Full analysis please!
Mr Toad Mr Toad 11/20/2021 03:20
"The tournament lineup selection has truly been fantastic as there [WERE] no theoretical or quick uneventful draws"
Not that I'm obsessive or anything :)
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 11/20/2021 03:09
It's true that he brought his low rapid rating a bit in line with his classic and blitz rating in a quite convincing manner, but I hope 'the age of Arjun Erigaisi' was meant as a jocular description of this feat...
tip4success tip4success 11/20/2021 12:09
My guess is the fists are of Arjun and Anand.