Indians at the Isle of Man 2017

by Sagar Shah
10/15/2017 – We look back at IoM one more time, focusing on the many Indian players who performed admirably, first and foremost, Vishy Anand for his second place finish, scoring 7.0 / 9. The second was Vidit Gujrathi, who had a very solid +4 performance. However, his biggest achievement of the event was surely holding Magnus Carlsen to a draw. And the third, rather lesser known, was GM Swapnil Dhopade, with a rating of 2532, but who performed at an Elo of 2768. We got in touch with all the three high performers and try to understand the secrets of their success. Photos: | Alina l'Ami (Anand), Emelianova (Vidit and Swapnil)

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Anand's solid second

After Vishy Anand lost to Anton Kovalyov in the second round of the World Cup 2017, many people started to speak about his retirement once again. I wonder why people do not learn their lesson. Every time Vishy has had a low in his career, he has fought back and come out stronger.

He did this once again at the Isle of Man International 2017. It was a strong Open tournament where Anand was the fourth seed behind Carlsen, Kramnik and Caruana. Vishy scored five wins and four draws to finish with a solid 7.0 / 9, gaining two Elo points in the process. He finished joint second with Nakamura, half a point behind Magnus Carlsen.

A curious fact is that although the tournament had 13 players above the rating of 2700, Anand didn't face any. One could say he was a tad lucky with the pairings, but he did make most of the chances offered to him.

Vishy Anand

Players like Shirov, Fressinet, Hou Yifan, Grandelius and Sethuraman can beat the best in the business on their day and Anand managed to not only stave them off, but also scored 4.0 / 5 against them.

Let's take a closer look at Vishy Anand's scorecard:

Rd. Bo. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res.
1 3 74 IM Esserman Marc 2453 USA 3,5 w 1
2 3 59 IM Lampert Jonas 2514 GER 5,0 s ½
3 12 58 IM Lubbe Nikolas 2515 GER 4,0 w 1
4 4 31 GM Shirov Alexei 2630 LAT 6,5 s ½
5 5 28 GM Grandelius Nils 2653 SWE 5,5 w ½
6 6 33 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2617 IND 5,0 w 1
7 3 46 GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2565 USA 6,0 s ½
8 4 26 GM Fressinet Laurent 2657 FRA 5,5 s 1
9 2 22 GM Hou Yifan 2670 CHN 6,0 w 1

Pleased with his performance at Isle of Man | Photo: Alina l'Ami

After Anand was back from Isle of Man and before he left for Seychelles, ChessBase India contacted him and did a short interview. Here's the entire transcript and at the end of the article you will also find the full recording.

Sagar Shah (SS): Which was your favourite game from the event?

Vishy Anand (VA): That's a tough one! I would choose between Lubbe in the third round and Hou Yifan in the ninth. Both games are quite pretty. In one I am about to give a mate to the king on e4 and I like the Hou Yifan game also very much. I think it is a game of one piece.

Hou Yifan and Vishy Anand in Round 9

Not the Petroff, again! Vishy Anand played an excellent game to beat Hou Yifan (Annotated below) | Photo: Emelianova

SS: What lessons did you learn from Gibraltar 2016 that you applied here?

VA: I think mainly the difference between Gibraltar and here is that I managed to remain calmer. In Gibraltar and even in World Cup 2017 I was unable to get into a calm state of mind, where you make sensible decisions at the board. In this tournament I managed to do this quite nicely. In fact I got into my groove in the last two games.

Gibraltar 2016 was a tough tournament for Anand where he lost a ton of rating points, but he learned his lessons and applied them at the Isle of Man | Photo: Sophie Triay 

SS: How did you prepare for this event after the World Cup?

VA: I couldn't do all that much of preparation after the World Cup. First of all I was not in the mood and second of all there wasn't much time. I tried to take a break. I enjoyed playing in the Isle of Man because it allows you a little bit of freedom to experiment. I believe this also is the case with Magnus. He seemed to happy to do stuff which he wouldn't be able to do at other places. I needed a little bit of luck against Fressinet in the eighth round. Otherwise the tournament wouldn't have ended so well.

Top players are able to try out different openings moreso than in top closed Round-Robins | Photo: Maria Emelianova

SS: Which are your next events?

VA: The next tournaments will be the London Chess Classic and in the new year Wijk Aan Zee Tata Steel event. I am looking forward to both.

A super tournament victory is something that has been missing for Anand for quite some time now. Will London 2017 change that? | Photo: Amruta Mokal 

Headline from Times of India: It's time for Viswanathan Anand to quit

SS: Did you read the article by IM Lanka Ravi for Times of India. Do you have anything to say about it? We received 153 comments for the contest where people had to quote the reason why you must not retire. The best 10 we published here. Can you say something to your fans who love you so much.

VA: I don't understand why all sorts of ridiculous people tell me that I should retire. I was very touched by what the readers have written. I think the ones who have written, look, if playing chess brings him pleasure and he enjoys it, then what's the reason for him not to do it! And I think they nailed the reason why I continue playing.

If I like playing, then I will play. That's all. 

SS: Lastly, how did you feel playing with 30 more Indians in the same playing hall?

Indian players at the closing ceremony

The best of Indian chess (almost!) captured in one frame! | Photo: Emelianova

VA: I had also experienced this in Gibraltar, this sensation of playing 30 Indians. There are some practical problems. Because normally in a Round-Robin I can find my table very easily by looking for the Indian flag. But in Isle of Man I couldn't find my table at all that way. In fact I would look for my opponent's flag. That was much easier to find! It's nice to bump into my Indian colleagues, at the venue or while taking a walk. I wish I had the chance to know them better. Hopefully this will be the case in future.

Selfies and photos abounded on social media as Indians got a chance to take a picture with their role model. Clockwise from top left: Swapnil Dhopade, Fenil Shah, Swayams Mishra and Rakesh Kumar Jena. 

Audio interview with pictures

My Career Vol. 1

The first DVD with videos from Anand's chess career reflects the very beginning of that career and goes as far as 1999. It starts with his memories of how he first learned chess and shows his first great games (including those from the 1984 WCh for juniors). The high point of his early developmental phase was the winning of the 1987 WCh for juniors. After that, things continue in quick succession: the first victories over Kasparov, WCh candidate in both the FIDE and PCA cycles and the high point of the WCh match against Kasparov in 1995.
Running time: 3:48 hours

Game Analysis

Anand selected two of his favourite games from the event. The first one was his third round win against Nikolas Lubbe and the second was his ninth round triumph over Hou Yifan. The Lubbe game is annotated in the replayable board below, while the Hou Yifan game is analyzed in the youtube video. 

Viswanathan Anand 1-0 Nikolas Lubbe (Annotated by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event " IoM Masters"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2017.09.25"] [Round "3.12"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Lubbe, Nikolas"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2794"] [BlackElo "2515"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2017.09.23"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. a4 e5 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Bg5 Nbd7 9. Bc4 h6 10. Be3 Nb6 (10... Ng4 {Perhaps Anand would have given up his bishop on e3, but it would have been interesting to see how he did that.}) 11. Bb3 Be6 12. Qd3 Rc8 13. Bxb6 $5 {The start of an exchange operation to increase control on the d5 square.} Qxb6 14. a5 Qc7 15. Nd2 O-O 16. O-O Rfd8 17. Rfd1 Rd7 (17... d5 {White is threatening Nf1-e3 and so I really want to make this move work. But unfortunately it doesn't work out.} 18. exd5 $16) 18. Na4 $5 {The knight is coming to b6.} d5 19. Nb6 dxe4 20. Qf1 $5 Bg4 21. Nxd7 Qxd7 22. Nc4 $1 (22. Nxe4 Bxd1 23. Rxd1 $14 {also gives White an edge.}) 22... Qc7 23. Nb6 Rf8 24. Re1 {Anand has won an exchange and decides to keep his extra material.} Bb4 25. c3 Bxa5 26. Nd5 Nxd5 27. Bxd5 Rd8 28. Bxe4 (28. Qc4 $16) 28... Rd2 29. h3 Be6 30. Re2 Bc4 31. Rxd2 $1 {The queen sacrifice works well for White here and because of the opposite coloured bishops on the board, he is able to launch a strong attack on his opponent's king.} Bxf1 32. Rxf1 Kf8 {The king feels uncomfortable inside the box, but outside also it is not all safe.} 33. Rfd1 Ke7 34. Bf5 Kf6 35. Rd7 Qc4 36. Bd3 Qa4 37. Be2 Qb3 38. R1d6+ Kg5 39. g3 g6 40. h4+ Kf5 41. g4+ Ke4 42. Rf6 {[%csl Gd7,Re4,Gf6][%cal Ge2f3] The king is trapped in the centre and Bf3 would be a pretty mate! A very powerful game by Anand.} 1-0

Play the Sicilian Najdorf

In 60 minutes you will get a crash course how to play such a complicated opening like the Sicilian Najdorf by the hands of GM van Wely who knows by experience how the dangers look like! The contents:
• Video 1, 2, 3: how to survive versus whites most aggressive approach: 6. Bc4, 6. Be3 and 6 Bg5
• Video 4: how to deal with the latest fashion in the Najdorf 6. h3 and last but not least
• Video 5: how to play vs the more classical set ups 6. Be2 and 6. g3

ChessBase India YouTube

Vishy Anand and Hikaru Nakamura congratulate each other on scoring 7.0/10 and finishing joint second | Photo: John Saunders

Vidit Gujrathi toe-to-toe with World Champion Magnus Carlsen

India's number three and the most upcoming player, Vidit Gujrathi, played against the World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the seventh round. The way that game went goes to show how much Vidit has progressed as a player. He kept the pressure right from the opening and was able to outplay the World Champion with the black pieces. If it was anyone else Vidit would have surely pushed on, but against Carlsen he decided to play it safe and simplify the game into a drawn endgame.
There are games that can change the direction of a chess career. And this is surely one of them. Vidit's confidence has increased by leaps and bounds after this draw against Magnus Carlsen. The 2721 rated 22-year-old from Nashik has started to believe that he too belongs right up there with the best. As this game has such great import, we decided to ask Vidit what he felt before, during and after the struggle. There is a short interview in this article, but before that you can replay the game below to get a better idea of what transpired.

Magnus Carlsen and Vidit

Confident Vidit shows he is ready to fight with the best! | Photo: Emelianova

Magnus Carlsen ½-½ Vidit Gujrathi (Annotated by Sagar Shah)

[Event " IoM Masters"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2017.09.29"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2827"] [BlackElo "2702"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2017.09.23"] 1. Nf3 {This move came as a bit of a surprise for Vidit, but in general he was expecting Magnus to play something off beat.} d5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O (4. d4 {In order to avoid what happened in the game, White players usually go for this move order.}) 4... e5 {I like Vidit's decision. He gets the centre and easy development. Magnus has to decide how he can make use of the extra tempo in this opposite coloured King's Indian Defence.} 5. d3 Ne7 6. e4 (6. c4 { is another way to play the position.}) 6... O-O 7. exd5 Nxd5 8. Re1 Nc6 { Black has excellent development and I would say has already equalized out of the opening.} 9. Nc3 (9. Nbd2 {with the idea of Nc4 to put more pressure on e5 is more logical it seems.}) 9... Nde7 10. Rb1 a5 11. b3 Re8 12. Bb2 Nf5 13. Nb5 {With this move Vidit got the counterplay flowing with the move a5-a4.} (13. a4 {could have been a slightly better possibility for White. Although Black seems to be perfectly fine here as well.}) 13... a4 14. c4 (14. b4 $5 Nxb4 15. Bxe5 $1 $14) 14... axb3 15. axb3 Nd6 $1 {[%cal Gf5d6] This was the move that Vidit liked very much and after this he did feel that Black had a very comfortable position. It is counterintuitive that instead of using the d4 square from f5, the knight jumped back to d6. But the priority was to eliminate the knight from b5.} 16. Ra1 $6 {This move really gives Black a very pleasant position.} ( 16. Nc3 Bg4 17. h3 Bxf3 18. Bxf3 Nd4 $11 {/=+}) 16... Rxa1 17. Bxa1 Nxb5 18. cxb5 Nd4 {White has nothing to show for his mangled pawn structure.} 19. Bxd4 ( 19. Nxd4 exd4 20. Rxe8+ Qxe8 $17) 19... exd4 20. Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. Qc1 {Until now Vidit has played all the best moves but now starts going wrong. He feels that Bd7 is the best move and goes for it. But in that process he exchanges his pretty good c7 pawn with White's weak b5 pawn. White's disadvantage is reduced. } Bd7 $6 {[%cal Gc8d7]} (21... Bf5 $1 $17) (21... Qe7 $1 $17) 22. Qxc7 Bxb5 23. Bf1 Bc6 24. Qf4 Bxf3 (24... Qd8 $15 {Maybe on some other ambitious day Vidit would have played this way. But in general he saw that he could easily make a draw by taking on f3, and went for it.}) 25. Qxf3 $11 Qc6 26. Qd1 b6 27. Bg2 Qe6 28. Bb7 Bf8 29. Qf3 Kg7 30. Qf4 Qf6 31. Qxf6+ {A draw against the World Champion with the black pieces is a great achievement.} 1/2-1/2

King's Indian Attack

The King’s Indian Attack is a unique opening system in that it offers White a dynamic and interesting game but without the need to know reams of theory. In addition to being easy to learn it has an excellent pedigree, leading exponents including great players such as Bobby Fischer, Tigran Petrosian, David Bronstein, Viktor Korchnoi, Leonid Stein and Lev Psakhis. GM Nigel Davies presents a complete repertoire for White.

SS: What was your reaction when you got to know that you were going to play the World Champion Magnus Carlsen?

VG: Normally you would expect a player to be excited or nervous when he gets the opportunity to play the World Champion. But I was very chilled out. I was just happy that I was getting a chance to play against Magnus.

SS: How did you prepare for the game?

VG: When you play against Carlsen, you cannot really predict the opening. So I took more rest than usual and prepared myself mentally for a long fight.

SS: What openings were you expecting from him? 

VG: I looked at what Magnus would usually play, but in Isle of Man he was very unpredictable. He was more in the freestyle mode. So I did look at the normal lines and checked my notes there, but I was expecting him to play something different.

SS: Were you surprised when he played 1.Nf3?

VG: Of all the lines that I prepared before the game, I didn't spend so much time on 1.Nf3. So you could say that I was surprised to some extent!

 SS: You thought a lot before making your first move what were you thinking?

Magnus has made his move, and Vidit's time is ticking | Photo: Emelianova

VG: I was not really thinking at that point. I didn't even know that he had made his move. I was just trying to get myself in the zone before the game.

SS: When did you start feeling comfortable during the game?


VG: When I made this move ...Nd6 I saw that all my pieces were well placed. At the same time he was taking a lot of time for his moves, from which I understood that he was not very happy with his position!

The opening went really well for Vidit and Magnus couldn't find a way to put even the slightest of pressure on his opponent | Photo: Emelianova

SS: Do you think you showed too much respect for your opponent. Like if it was someone else you would have pressed harder?

VG: I think it was happening at a subconscious level. I didn't realize that the position was so much better, because I didn't look for it. Maybe, if it was someone else I would have looked harder and tried to find more resources. But I was happy to see ...Bd7 and that I had no problems. But yes, you are right, if it was someone else I would have tried harder. In hindsight it was clearly a big mistake and something to work on in the future.


This was the position where Vidit could have kept up the pressure with a move like 21...Qe7. Instead he went for 21...Bd7 and after 22.Qxc7 Bxb5 23.Bf1 White had fewer problems to solve.

SS: What did Magnus say after the game?

A relieved-looking Magnus Carlsen after the game | Photo: John Saunders

VG: We were just discussing the various positions after the game. We exchanged our ideas and thoughts. Many of our opinions matched and on some we disagreed. But overall it was a very healthy post-mortem analysis. 

SS: How was your feeling after drawing the game? 

VG: Initially I thought that I played a good game, which is true, but I think I could have played better. After coming back to the room, I checked with the computer and realized that I could have put pressure on him with something like ...Qd8 and even later I had many chances to push. To sum it up — I was happy with the game but the objective part of me said that I could have done better.


The move 24...Bxf3 in the above position showed too much respect for the World Champion. Against someone else Vidit would have gone for Qd8 with ideas like Qd5.

SS: What did Nigel Short say to you before the game? That photo has been liked by everyone a lot!

Readers are welcome to give their captions to this image in the comments section! | Photo: Emelianova

VG: It was a nice picture indeed and a perfectly timed capture. I think some things are more fun if there is some mystery attached with it. So I think I will keep it that way! 

Learn from Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit's DVDs (part I and II) on Caro Kann is one of the best materials available out there on the opening. If you are interested to play the Caro Kann with black this is all that you need!

The Fashionable Caro-Kann Vol.1 and 2

The Caro Kann is a very tricky opening. Black’s play is based on controlling and fighting for key light squares. It is a line which was very fashionable in late 90s and early 2000s due to the successes of greats like Karpov, Anand, Dreev etc. Recently due to strong engines lot of key developments have been made and some new lines have been introduced, while others have been refuted altogether. I have analyzed the new trends carefully and found some new ideas for Black.

How did Swapnil Dhopade achieve a performance of 2768?

Swapnil Dhopade lost the last round of the National Challengers 2017 to Deepan Chakkravarthy and with it missed out on the championship title. It was a depressing moment for the Amravati lad, especially because he was completely dominating the tournament with a 8½ / 9. After the event, I felt that Swapnil would be devastated, but in an interview with Ankit Dalal, he seemed extremely calm. He objectively pin-pointed his error that had led to the last round defeat and looked determined to make a strong comeback. It was then that I knew that a powerful performance from Mr. Dhopade was on the cards. Which tournament it would be had to be seen. 

Swapnil chose Isle of Man to show to the world what he was capable off. And he couldn't have chosen a better event. In a star-studded tournament, where he faced seven grandmasters, six of them being above 2650, Swapnil scored 6½ / 9, with four wins and five draws. An astonishing performance of 2768 gaining 28 Elo points! This was by far the best performance of his career. We caught up with the man of the moment and did a small interview with him to decode his performance. What is it that is turning the tide in Swapnil Dhopade's chess career?

Swapnil Dhopade at Isle of Man

Rd. Bo. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res.
1 44 80 WGM Shvayger Yuliya 2442 ISR 4,5 s 1
2 27 121 IM L'ami Alina 2286 ROU 3,5 w 1
3 9 27 GM Granda Zuniga Julio E 2653 PER 6,0 s ½
4 9 20 GM Movsesian Sergei 2671 ARM 6,0 w ½
5 16 23 GM Jones Gawain C B 2668 ENG 5,5 s ½
6 18 41 GM Tari Aryan 2588 NOR 5,5 w 1
7 9 19 GM Rapport Richard 2675 HUN 6,5 s ½
8 11 14 GM Short Nigel D 2698 ENG 5,5 w 1
9 3 8 GM Eljanov Pavel 2734 UKR 6,5 s ½

Swapnil's scorecard at the Isle of Man International includes wins ver Shvayger, l'Ami, Tari and Short. All his draws were against 2650+ opponents. | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Sagar Shah (SS): 2768!! Swapnil, how were you able to perform so well at the event?

Swapnil Dhopade (SD): I cannot really point out one specific reason. As always is the case with such good performances it was a mixture of many reasons. I have been training hard for past several months with the goal of 2600 in mind. I think all my work was useful in this tournament. Also I performed well in National Challengers. I feel one of the main reasons might be my work with Jacob Aagaard. I attended his camp in August in Glasgow and I feel I have learned a lot of things with him.

Swapnil with his latest trainer Jacob Aagaard | Photo: Jacob Aagaard

SS: How did working with Jacob Aagaard help?

SD: Working with Jacob has really helped me a lot. First of all I have worked a lot with his books. I especially liked his books on calculation and positional play. In August I attended a camp of his. I learned a lot of things in the camp. He pushed us out of our comfort zones by giving really tough positions. The quality of his material is amazing. Also I learned the importance of physical fitness after working him. During the camp we used to go to the gym daily for two hours and play badminton. I feel working on fitness and energy helps one to perform better in the tournaments for sure. Jacob is one of the fittest chess players I have seen.

The training camp in Glasgow in the first week of August at Jacob Aagaard's residence was attended by two Indians Swapnil Dhopade and Tania Sachdev 

SS: Tell us something about your king walk against Aryan Tari! Were you inspired by Short-Timman?!

Swapnil offered his queen for exchange on g3 and then marched his king all the way up to g5 to weave a mating net around the black king

SD: I have obviously seen such king walks many times, especially in the end games. It just came very naturally to me, as we both already had less time. I just followed my intuition and took the king to g5. When you see many such ideas it gets stored in your mind subconsciously and pops up during the game automatically. Therefore studying classical games of great players is important. You get to learn many such interesting ideas.

Aryan Tari has been improving at a rapid pace and has reached an Elo of 2600 in the past. Swapnil was able to masterfully outplay him in the endgame! | Maria Emelianova

SS: Tell us some key analysis of the move e4 against Rapport. He is known as an aggressive player, but you were playing like him!


Play through the moves on the live diagram!

SD: Well Rapport always plays such aggressive chess! Before the game I thought I will play solid from the opening because he takes a lot of risk and I will get my chances anyway. When he played 15.Bf3 his idea was to take on g6 with the knight and play Qh4. But I felt something was wrong with the placement of Qg4-Bf3. So 15...e4 came to my mind with ideas like Ne5. But obviously after 16.dxe4 I cannot play Ne5 because he can simply play Bxe5. So I considered 16...Be5 when he has to play 17.c3 but then the d3 square becomes weak and I have 17...Nc5 exploiting the weak d3 square.

Once I imagined this position in my mind it became clear to me that Black is going to have a strong initiative. I checked some other lines after e4 and then went for it.

SS: Which was your favourite game from the tournament?

SD: My favorite game in this tournament was my win against Nigel Short.

Nigel Short in good spirits before the start of his game against Swapnil  | Photo: Emelianova

SS: Nigel Short is a legend. How were you able to beat him in such smooth style?

SD: Nigel is of course a world class player. Before our game he had a series of draws so I felt he will try hard to win against me. That is why he went for a rare move in the Catalan. He just wanted to play a position over the board which is new for both of us.

But unfortunately the opening experiment backfired. I got a typical Catalan edge. I had control over the two most important breaks in the position which could free his pieces. The c5 and e5 squares. Without these breaks blacks position is always a bit cramped and uncomfortable.

I just put of my pieces on the right squares and I was better. I think the critical moment of the game was after he played Qb5.

I was hesitating to play a4 and I took a long time there. I had to assess the arising Rook knight vs rook knight Endgame which comes by force. In that Endgame which came in the game the weakness of the b7 pawn and the badly placed d8 knight gives white a clear advantage.

Another important moment was to gain space on the Kingside with h4-h5 and fix blacks Kingside pawns. Once his f5 square was weak, I just had to find a way to manoeuvre the knight to f5, after which it was just winning.

The final nail in the coffin — pushing the pawn to h5!

Swapnil S. 1-0 Nigel Short (annotated by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event " IoM Masters"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2017.09.30"] [Round "8.11"] [White "Swapnil, S. Dhopade"] [Black "Short, Nigel D"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2532"] [BlackElo "2698"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "145"] [EventDate "2017.09.23"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. Qa4 Bd7 {[%cal Gc8d7] This was Nigel's try to take the game into uncharted territory, but gives White a small and risk-free edge.} (6... Bb4+ {is the main move in this position.}) 7. Qxc4 Bd6 (7... Na5) 8. O-O O-O 9. Nc3 a6 10. Bg5 {Swapnil would like to eliminate the knight on f6 and then continue by putting his knight on e4 and creating a lot of pressure on the queenside with moves like Nc5, rooks coming to c1 and d1 and so on.} h6 11. Bxf6 Qxf6 12. Rac1 Rfc8 13. Ne4 Qe7 14. Nc5 Rab8 (14... Bxc5 15. Qxc5 Qxc5 16. Rxc5 $14 {looks like a small edge for White.}) 15. Rfd1 Be8 16. e3 Nd8 {This knight on d8 turns out to be the crucial factor in the game. It's Black's worst piece and he isn't able to improve it.} 17. a3 Bc6 18. b4 {[%csl Gb4,Gc5,Gd4][%cal Gf3e5]} Qe8 19. Qc3 Ra8 20. Nd2 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 a5 22. bxa5 Qb5 {[%cal Ge8b5]} 23. a4 Qxa5 24. Qxa5 Rxa5 25. Nc4 $1 Raa8 26. Nxd6 $1 {This exchange was an important one for White. It could lead to a position that is quite drawish in nature, but Swapnil had seen that he maintains a slight pull.} cxd6 27. Ne4 d5 28. Rxc8 Rxc8 29. Nc5 { [%csl Rb7,Gc5,Rd8]} e5 (29... b6 30. Nd7 $14) 30. Nd7 $1 exd4 31. Rxd4 Ne6 32. Rxd5 {White is a pawn up now. The conversion is by no means simple, but Swapnil manages to pull it through.} Rc4 33. a5 Rb4 34. h4 g5 35. h5 $1 { [%csl Rf5][%cal Gh4h5,Gd7f5] Fixing the pawn on h6.} Kg7 36. Ne5 Nf8 37. Nd3 Rb3 38. Nc5 Rb1 39. Ne4 b6 40. Nd6 $1 bxa5 41. Rxa5 {Now the f7 pawn is weak and Nf5+ is in the air. Black will lose another pawn.} Nd7 42. Nf5+ Kh7 43. Ra6 g4 (43... Rb6 44. Rxb6 Nxb6 45. g4 $18 {This looks like a winning knight endgame.}) 44. Rxh6+ Kg8 45. Ra6 Ne5 46. Ra5 f6 47. Ra4 Kh7 48. Ra7+ Kh8 49. Nh6 f5 50. Nf7+ $1 {This simplifies the game into a winning rook endgame.} Nxf7 51. Rxf7 Rb5 52. h6 Re5 53. Kf1 Kg8 54. Rg7+ Kh8 55. Kg2 Re6 56. Rg5 Rf6 57. e4 fxe4 58. Rxg4 Re6 59. Kf1 e3 60. f3 e2+ 61. Ke1 Re3 62. Rf4 Kh7 63. Rf6 Re5 64. g4 Re3 65. g5 Re5 66. f4 Re7 67. f5 Re5 68. Rf7+ Kg8 69. g6 Re8 70. f6 Ra8 71. h7+ Kh8 72. Rf8+ Rxf8 73. g7+ {A very nice finish, in the style of Philidor's quote - pawns are the soul of chess!} 1-0

The Catalan: A complete repertoire for White!

The Catalan is one of the most solid openings for White. It forms part of the large and strong fianchetto family in which White builds his strategy mainly around the bishop on g2. Grandmaster Victor Bologan covers all of Black’s replies to the Catalan, some of which can even transpose to other openings such as the Tarrasch System and the Queen’s Indian. Suffice it to say that the Catalan rules!

SS: How was it to have Vishy Anand playing in the same tournament?

SD: I was very excited to know that Vishy Anand was going to play. It would be the first time I was going to play in the same tournament as him. I didn't miss my chance to take a selfie with him [smiles]! He is a very humble and down to earth human being which I really admire about him. He is always calm during the game, something that every player should learn. He is a true inspiration for us all.

How can one pass the chance of taking a selfie with the five-time World Champion!

SS: Magnus won the tournament when he came with his girlfriend to the event. Are you thinking on these lines for future events?!

Carlsen with Synne Kristin Larsen — secret for his success? | Emelianova

SD: Magnus won the tournament because he is a very strong player. First I have to focus on improving my game then start thinking along these lines [laughs]. I still make a lot mistakes!

 SS: Do you think this is the revival of your chess career and that you can now dream of 2600 and beyond?

SD: Yes this performance has really charged me up. I don't want to go too far but 2600 has been at the back of my mind for a long time. I hope to reach there soon.

Swapnil's next tournament will be the National Premier Championship beginning from the 27th of October 2017. It would be interesting to see if he can repeat his performance and give B. Adhiban, the top seed of the event, a run for his money!

Swapnil S. Dhopade | Photo: Emelianova

These interviews of Indian players were originally published on ChessBase India. By bringing forth the stories of successful achievers ChessBase India hopes to give the young talents in India and all over the world an insight into what it means to be performing well at the highest level. True to its tagline it is trying to Power chess in India.


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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