Top juniors in 2022: Nodirbek Abdusattorov

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/8/2023 – 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. Former world rapid champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov is fourth in the list. At 18, he has proven his mettle as a leader, playing top board for Uzbekistan in an astounding run to Olympic gold in Chennai. | Find here analysis of a remarkable victory by Abdusattorov, annotated by Ivan Sokolov.

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Strong under pressure

Nodirbek AbdusattorovOn 28 December 2021, then 17-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov stunned the chess world by winning the World Rapid Championship in Warsaw. A field that had Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Jan-Krzysztof Duda as the three rating favourites saw Abdusattorov (59th seed) beating Ian Nepomniachtchi (4th seed) in playoffs to take home the first prize after beating Carlsen himself in the first round of the final day of action.

As the 2022 chess season unfolded, the Uzbek star continued to improve his classical rating, with good (yet not great) performances in events played in Belgrade, Prague and Biel. His one remarkable showing in an individual tournament was seen at the Sharjah Masters in May, where he tied for first place with Saleh Salem after scoring 7 out of 9 points and obtaining a 2834 TPR. Abdusattorov was crowned champion thanks to his better tiebreak score.

In the August ratings list, Abdusattorov had yet to surpass the 2700 rating barrier, a feat he would achieve in style in the next month, as he played top board for the gold medallists of Uzbekistan at the Olympiad in Chennai. Much like in the 2021 World Rapid, the boy from Tashkent showed his best form in a high-profile event, taking on the responsibility of leading his national squad a month before his 18th birthday.

In Chennai, Abdusattorov gained 21.1 rating points after scoring 8½/11 points and winning individual silver medal thanks to his impressive 2803 TPR. Over the eleven rounds (like Arjun, he was fielded in every single round at the team event), he got to beat Fabiano Caruana and an in-form Gukesh. The win over his Indian colleague was not all that deserved, as Gukesh over-pressed and blundered after missing winning chances earlier in the game.

In an excellent interview conducted by Sagar Shah, Abdusattorov demonstrated his level-headedness when he referred to this incident:

At some point, I felt like I should resign. But this is a team event, and I have to try to keep the game going. [...] Okay, I was very happy, but it is very sad winning these kinds of games. I felt very sad for him, but it happens.

The momentum gathered in the Olympiad prompted a second consecutive great showing at another team event: the Turkish League in Ankara. Mostly against players in the 2400-2650 rating band, Abdusattorov collected 8½/11 points for a 14.4 rating gain.

While not a particularly strong blitz player, Abdusattorov did show his strength in rapid during his year as world champion. The greatest gain rating-wise in this category was seen in the last month of 2022, as he had impressive outings at the Gashimov Memorial in Baku and at the World Rapid in Almaty.

After winning the rapid and blitz event in Azerbaijan with five rounds to spare (he scored 7/9 points in the rapid), an 8½/13 performance in Kazakhstan was not enough for him to defend his World Rapid title but nonetheless gained him over 17 rating points — in Almaty, the youngster managed to beat Nepomniachtchi and Duda in consecutive rounds!

Having just finished high school, the Uzbek has already shown the sort of maturity that might allow him to put up a real fight at the World Championship cycle in the (very) near future.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov

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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