Top juniors in 2022: Arjun Erigaisi

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/7/2023 – The new generation of chess stars is here, with no fewer than nine players aged 19 or younger rated above 2650 at the time. In a 7-part series, we will look at the performances of the top juniors in 2022. We now move on to the third spot in the junior ranking, where Arjun Erigaisi stands serenely, though certainly looking upwards. In 2022, Arjun dominated the Tata Steel Challengers’ tournament and had a marvellous showing at the Olympiad. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess

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Steady as he goes

Arjun ErigaisiRelative to some of his prodigious compatriots, Arjun Erigaisi is a bit of a late bloomer. Nonetheless, he is still 19 years old, and by now it is hard to imagine him dropping out of the ‘2700 club’. In a busy 2022, the youngster from Telangana steadily upped his classical rating, with two big spikes showing his true potential: a dominating victory at the Tata Steel Challengers in Wijk aan Zee, and a splendid performance at the Olympiad in Chennai.

Throughout the year, Arjun played no fewer than 14 classical tournaments, and only in one of the twelve monthly rating lists did he lose Elo points. Thanks to his persistent progress, he went from a 2632 rating (in January 2022) to his current 2722 points, which leaves him as the 26th highest-rated player in the world. Out of the 90 points he gained in 2022, almost half (39.7 to be precise) were collected in Wijk and Chennai, in two of the most demanding tournaments of the circuit.

At the Challengers section of the Tata Steel event in January, Arjun grabbed the title with a round to spare, having outscored a field consisting of ambitious youngsters and seasoned grandmasters. After securing first place with a +7 score, the Indian went on to win his final-round game to end the event with an astounding 10½/13 score. A week from now, he will try his hand against an elite lineup at the Dutch coastal city, with Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren and Fabiano Caruana the top three seeds in the Masters.

Six months later, Arjun was the only U-20 player to be included in the ‘India 1’ lineup at the Olympiad. The team entered the event as the second seeds, with the Indian fans putting much of their hopes of grabbing gold on them. Their showing was somewhat underwhelming, but they got a commendable fourth place in the end — and their success had much to do with Arjun’s commanding performance.

Despite his busy schedule in 2022, Arjun was fielded in all 11 rounds at the Olympiad, scoring six wins and five draws for an 8½/11 score. His 2767 TPR gained him an individual silver medal on board 3, which was only second to David Howell’s superb 2898 performance rating. In the final round, Arjun defeated US star Leinier Dominguez, tying the score with the favourites after Narayanan had lost to Sam Shankland on an adjacent board.

Two more remarkable achievements in classical chess by the 19-year-old more than deserve a mention. In March, Arjun won the National Indian Championship with 8½/11 points after competing in a field that included the likes of Gukesh, Adhiban and Sethuraman. Then, right after his strong showing in Chennai, Arjun won the Dubai Masters open with a 7½/9 score, collecting back-to-back wins over Wang Hao and David Anton in the final rounds — the youngster finished the event with a dizzying 2893 TPR!

As for rapid and blitz, Arjun had successes both online and over-the-board. For a second year in a row, Arjun had a stellar performance at the Tata Steel India events, winning the blitz (ahead of Hikaru Nakamura!) and getting clear second place in the rapid. Earlier in the year, he had obtained two massive achievements in the Meltwater Champions Tour: he reached the final of the Generation Cup, and grabbed his first-ever victory over Magnus Carlsen at the Aimchess Rapid tournament

Arjun Erigaisi

Full information at ratings.fide.com

Zhu vs. Arjun - Tata Steel Challengers 2022

 

Annotated by Arjun Erigaisi for ChessBase Magazine

 

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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.
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