Zalakaros Rd. 1-4: Early upsets in Gyula Sax Memorial

by Srinath Narayanan
5/22/2017 – The 36th Zalakaros Open is taking place from 18th May to 26th May in the Hotel Karos Spa in Zalakaros, a beautiful little spa town in the Balaton lake region of Hungary. Top seed Richard Rapport has already suffered a shock defeat at the hands of IM Abhimanyu Puranik. Meanwhile, Indian IM Praggnanandhaa R. is playing some sparkling chess. Report.

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Early upsets in Gyula Sax Memorial

Zalakaros is the smallest town in the Hungary 1791 people live on an area of just 17.17 square kilometers (quite a contrast for someone like me, as my street back home in Chennai is probably more populated!).

Bright, beautiful and so quiet that you can constantly hear the ‘tweets’.

It is a nine-round Swiss event with one round being played every day. The time control was 40 moves in 90 minutes, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game and a 30-second increment from move one. There are two tournaments: the A group for those above 2300 Elo and a B group for those below 2400. The A group is an extremely strong event with a rating average of 2400 with 116 players. Richard Rapport (2698) is the top seed, with many strong players like Nisipeanu, Berkes, Kovalenko, Markus, Efimenko and others fighting for the title.

Berkes will lead the Hungarian challenge

Kovalenko, the 2015 Champion will hope to repeat his success

IA Tamas Horvath (extreme left), the organizer of the tournament, and the ambassador to India (extreme right).

The first round saw an unexpected casualty as GM Alexander Zubov unexpectedly lost to IM Li Bo of China.

[Event "36th Zalakaros Open 2017"] [Site "Zalakaros HUN"] [Date "2017.05.18"] [Round "1.10"] [White "Li, Bo"] [Black "Zubov, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D23"] [WhiteElo "2359"] [BlackElo "2604"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2017.05.18"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qa4+ Nc6 5. Nc3 Nd5 6. e4 Nb6 7. Qd1 Bg4 8. Be3 e6 9. Be2 Be7 10. O-O O-O {Black is already a little better. He is a pawn up for no compensation and the c4 pawn isn't easy to regain.} 11. d5 (11. h3 Bh5 12. Qd2 (12. Nd2 Bxe2 13. Nxe2 Bb4 14. Rc1 Bxd2 15. Qxd2 $15) 12... Qe8 $1 $15) 11... exd5 12. exd5 Nb4 (12... Bxf3 $142 13. Bxf3 Ne5 {would save the c4 pawn and Black would just be a pawn up.}) 13. Bxb6 axb6 14. Bxc4 {why give the pawn back? I suppose Zubov thought Black was better here in any case.} Bf6 15. h3 Bf5 16. Qd2 c6 17. Qf4 Bg6 18. Rad1 Nxd5 $2 {a very strange move.} (18... Bxc3 $142 19. bxc3 Nxd5 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Rd2 $44) 19. Nxd5 (19. Bxd5 {was even stronger} cxd5 20. Nxd5 {was also strong} Ra5 21. Nxf6+ Qxf6 22. Qxf6 gxf6 23. a3 $16) 19... cxd5 20. Rxd5 Qb8 21. Ne5 Ra5 $2 {loses a pawn right away. White to play and win.} (21... Bc2 $142 {was necessary} 22. Re1 Re8 23. Qd2 Bxe5 24. Qxc2 Bf6 25. Rxe8+ Qxe8 26. g3 $14) 22. Nxg6 Rxd5 23. Bxd5 hxg6 24. Bxf7+ $1 Kxf7 25. Qc4+ Ke8 26. Qe6+ Be7 27. Rc1 Kd8 28. Rd1+ Ke8 29. Rd7 Rf7 30. Rxe7+ 1-0

However, this wasn’t the biggest surprise as IM Abhimanyu Puranik toppled Richard Rapport (2698).

Abhimanyu has fond memories of Zalakaros, as he made a GM norm here last year. He made a similar start the previous year, upsetting the first seed, GM Zahar Efimenko, from an inferior position. His resourcefulness again came to the fore today.

[Event "36th Zalakaros Open 2017"] [Site "Zalakaros HUN"] [Date "2017.05.19"] [Round "2.1"] [White "Puranik, Abhimanyu"] [Black "Rapport, Richard"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C70"] [WhiteElo "2459"] [BlackElo "2698"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2017.05.18"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nge7 5. O-O Ng6 {A strange place for the knight.} 6. c3 b5 7. Bb3 Na5 8. Bc2 Be7 9. a4 b4 10. d4 exd4 11. Nxd4 $1 { The classical rule is to capture with the pawn and control the center. However, here White develops the knight to c3 and controls the center better. This also exploits Black's knight on a5.} (11. cxd4 {takes the c3 square away from White's knight, restricting his development possibilities.}) 11... O-O 12. cxb4 Bxb4 13. Nc3 Re8 {White has a healthy advantage, but the position remains very complicated.} 14. f4 $5 (14. Rb1 $1 {was a very strong move} Bxc3 (14... Bb7 15. Nd5 Bf8) 15. bxc3 d5 16. Nf3 $1 $14) (14. Nd5 Bf8 15. Nf5 c6 16. Nde3 d5 $132) 14... Bb7 15. f5 Ne5 16. f6 g6 {This creates a dangerous hook, but concretely, White doesn't have any immediate threat because of Black's dark square bishop.} 17. Nd5 $2 {This completely obseletes the pawn on f6 as White doesn't have a route for the Queen to the dark squares on Black's kingside anymore.} (17. Qd2 Bf8 18. Qg5 $36 {was probably a better try.}) 17... Bxd5 18. exd5 c5 19. Ne2 c4 20. Nc3 Rb8 (20... Nb3 {was very strong!} 21. Bxb3 {forced, as White can't afford to have his dark squared bishop chopped off.} (21. Rb1 Nxc1 22. Rxc1 Qb6+ 23. Kh1 Qe3 $17) 21... cxb3 22. Qd4 Qa5 23. Kh1 Qc5 $17 { White's pawns will be hunted like the men of night's watch will be when the 'other' make their way beyond the wall.}) 21. Kh1 Bf8 (21... Bxc3 22. bxc3 Nb3 {was again very strong, but it's psychologically very hard to exchange off the b4-bishop.} 23. Rb1 Nxc1 24. Rxc1 Rb6 $17) 22. Rb1 Nb3 23. Bf4 Qb6 24. Ne4 Rbc8 25. Ng5 Nc5 26. Qd4 Ned3 {Black is slowly increasing the pressure...} 27. Bxd3 $2 {With three minutes remaining, White throws caution to the wind and goes all in.} (27. Bg3 $142) 27... cxd3 28. Be3 Qb3 29. Qh4 h6 (29... h5 {was also winning.}) 30. Nxf7 Kxf7 31. Bxh6 Re4 32. Bf4 Qxd5 33. Qh7+ Ke8 34. f7+ {[#]} Qxf7 $4 {I presume Rapport got too complacent here and missed his opponent's next move completely.} (34... Kd8 $142 35. Qh4+ (35. Qg8 Ne6 $19) 35... g5 36. Qxg5+ Qxg5 37. Bxg5+ Kc7 $19) 35. Bd6 $1 {[#]Black has no way back from here.} Re7 36. Rxf7 Rxf7 37. Qxg6 Bxd6 38. Rf1 1-0

Abhimanyu starts off from where he had left last year. In the third round, he beat German GM Rasmus Svane:

[Event "36th Zalakaros Open 2017"] [Site "Zalakaros HUN"] [Date "2017.05.20"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Puranik, Abhimanyu"] [Black "Svane, Rasmus"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B11"] [WhiteElo "2459"] [BlackElo "2573"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2017.05.18"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Ne4 5. Ne2 Qb6 6. d4 e6 7. Nfg1 f6 8. exf6 $5 {A new move in a well known position. Very interesting and original play!} ( 8. f3 Ng5 9. exf6 gxf6 10. f4 {is the mainline. This position is immensely complicated.}) 8... Nxf6 9. Nf3 c5 10. Nf4 cxd4 11. Bd3 Bd6 12. O-O {Black is a pawn up, but White is set to regain it, as d4 and e6 is weak. Under such circumstances, it'll be ideal if Black can find a way to keep the pawn, as these are central pawns that exert a lot of control over important squares.} e5 (12... O-O 13. Re1 (13. Ng5 h6 14. Ngxe6 Bxe6 15. Nxe6 Bxh2+ 16. Kxh2 Qxe6 $15) 13... Na6 $1 {it's a complicated position, but Black is better.}) 13. Re1 Nc6 14. Ng5 e4 $2 {[#]} (14... Bd7 $142) 15. Nxd5 $1 Nxd5 16. Nxe4 {The bishop on d6 holds together Black's position, however it is vulnerable. Black's position gets very difficult upon it's elimination.} (16. Bxe4 Nde7 17. Qh5+ Kd7 18. Bd2 $16 {[#] was also very strong, but not easy for a human to evaluate this accurately.}) 16... Nce7 17. c4 Nf6 {[#]} 18. Nxf6+ $2 {Keeping concrete details aside, I feel that White should've gone after the dark square bishop.} (18. c5 $142 $1 Bxc5 19. Nxc5 Qxc5 20. Bf4 $16 {The e7 knight's fall is just a matter of time.}) 18... gxf6 19. Qh5+ Kd8 20. Bd2 a5 21. Qf7 Bd7 {White's attack has fizzled out and Black seems alright. But Svane has just 8 minutes for 19 moves and Abhimanyu knows exactly how to set difficult problems for opponent's in these circumstances.} 22. g3 Bc5 23. Re2 Ng6 24. Rae1 Rf8 $6 ( 24... Qd6 $142 25. f4 Kc8 {was the right way to go, and in a handful of moves, Black would've a winning position.}) 25. Qg7 Ne5 26. Rxe5 $1 fxe5 27. Rxe5 { Black has just 3 minutes for 13 moves. I will refrain from commenting on every move from here as game goes into a crazy time scramble.} Kc7 (27... Kc8 { seems safer, from first impression.}) 28. Qg5 Bb4 29. Bf4 Kc8 30. a3 h6 31. Qg7 Bd6 32. c5 Bxc5 33. Rd5 Be6 34. Rh5 Rg8 $4 {[#]} (34... Rf7 $142 35. Qe5 Bf8 { not allowing Bf5.}) 35. Qe5 Bf8 36. Bf5 Kd7 37. Qd5+ Ke7 38. Bxe6 {Now it's just over} Rd8 39. Bd7 Bg7 40. Qe4+ Kf7 41. Rb5 Qf6 42. Qd5+ Ke7 43. Rxb7 { It may appear like Abhimanyu got lucky in both the games, but the truth is, he is actually a master in setting his opponent very difficult practical problems. Legends like Tal,Shirov had similar qualities as well and they used these tools against the highest opposition.} 1-0

IM Praggnanandhaa R. (2471) had a scare in the third round when he was dead lost but his opponent blundered and allowed him to win. There were no such chances in the fourth round as he crushed GM Levente Vajda (2600) with white.

[Event "36th Zalakaros Open 2017"] [Site "Zalakaros HUN"] [Date "2017.05.21"] [Round "4.6"] [White "Praggnanandhaa, R."] [Black "Vajda, Levente"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2471"] [BlackElo "2600"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 c5 3. Bg2 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. Nc3 { White has chosen to control the center with only his pieces, involving no pawns, much like Richard Reti.} O-O 8. Re1 d5 9. Nb3 d4 10. Na4 e5 {Black has occupied the center with his pawns, White with his pieces. The typical motif is to start putting pressure on these advanced pawns.} 11. c3 Re8 (11... dxc3 12. Nxc3 Bf5 {would be very close to equal, but White may still have a teeny tiny edge.}) 12. cxd4 exd4 13. Nac5 {A very interesting middlegame has arisen. The fundamental difference is in the pawn structure, especially the pawn on d4. This pawn gives Black space and exerts control. However, it is also vulnerable to being attacked. The knight on c5 along with the bishop on g2 exerts unpleasant pressure.} Ng4 14. h3 Nge5 15. e3 {So far, White has played by the textbook} Qe7 $2 (15... dxe3 $142 16. Bxe3 Qxd1 17. Raxd1 b6 18. Nd3 {puts Black under unpleasant pressure. Black has a few tactical ways to relieve his pressure, for example, Bxh3 here, however, it's hard to calculate this and evaluate accurately from 3 moves prior.}) 16. Bd2 $1 {Black's position prima facie seems alright, but he has already landed himself in a soup.} d3 (16... dxe3 17. Rxe3) 17. Rc1 Rd8 {loses a pawn, but it's already hard to give Black good advice.} 18. f4 Nd7 19. Nxd3 Nf6 20. Ndc5 {back to his favourite square.} Rb8 21. Qe2 b6 {finally Black gets rid of this irksome knight, but at what cost?} 22. Na6 Bxa6 23. Qxa6 Ne4 24. Bxe4 Qxe4 25. Qc4 Qxc4 26. Rxc4 Ne7 27. Bc3 b5 28. Rc5 Bxc3 29. Rxc3 {A comfortable pawn up.} Nd5 30. Rd3 Nb4 31. Rxd8+ Rxd8 32. a3 Nc6 33. Kf2 b4 34. a4 Rd3 35. Nc5 Rd2+ 36. Re2 Rd1 37. Rc2 Na5 38. Kf3 Rf1+ 39. Ke4 Ra1 40. g4 h6 41. Ke5 Kg7 42. f5 Nc6+ 43. Kd6 Na5 44. Nd7 {A near flawless performance. White displayed a high level of positional understanding and a very mature play. Wow!} 1-0

Rank after Round 4

Rk. Name  TB1 
1 Puranik Abhimanyu 3,5
2 Banusz Tamas 3,5
3 Papp Gabor 3,5
4 Nabaty Tamir 3,5
5 Mihok Oliver 3,5
6 Praggnanandhaa R 3,5
7 Kovalenko Igor 3,0
8 Svane Rasmus 3,0
9 Chernyshov Konstantin 3,0
10 Kollars Dmitrij 3,0

Complete Standings

Photos from the Facebook Page Magyar Sakkszövetség

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Srinath is a 23-year-old Indian Grandmaster. A former World Under 12 champion, at the age of fourteen he became an IM and had shown surprising and unswerving loyalty to the title ever since, until March 2017, when he crossed the 2500 mark and completed the requirements to become a grandmaster. He loves chess and likes to play in tournaments all around the globe.


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