Carlsen Wins Title In Asia – Vignesh, Gagare Make GM Norms

Carlsen Wins Title In Asia – Vignesh, Gagare Make GM Norms
By Arvind Aaron

World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway needs to be lauded for risking a high 2834 rating in a nine round Swiss at the Qatar Masters Open in Doha. He played at 2887 and gained 6.8 Elo from this contest.  Carlsen won five games and drew four including Nino Batsiashvili (Geo), So (USA), Giri (Ned) and Kramnik (Rus). His five wins included one over Aravindh Chithambaram and Mamedyarov.

The prize fund was USD 130,000 and the first prize was USD 27,000. There were many other special prizes and certainly appearance fees too.  Carlsen and Yu Yangyi tied for first place with 7/9. Sadly, they did not get to meet each other. Both remained undefeated.

A tournament is remembered by the norms it produces. Five GM norms were made, one by a Russian and four from Asia. Two Indians and two Chinese made GM norms. Indians included N.R. Vignesh of Chennai and Shardul Gagare of Rahauri, Maharashtra.

Shardul Gagare played at a stunning career best 2706, gaining 27.4 Elo. He beat China’s Wei Yi and Khairullin (Rus) in the first and last rounds.  He lost to Sasikiran. He drew Ivanchuk (Ukr), Hou Yifan (Chn), Dubov (Rus), Nguyen Ngoc (Vie), Adhiban and Vocaturo (Ita). For the 78th seed to finish 40th is a good achievement.

N.R. Vignesh too faced Grand Masters on all nine rounds and scored 50% to make a comfortable GM norm with 4.5/9. He lost to Ivanchuk and Sethuraman and beat Bartel (Pol) and Wei Yi (Chn). He drew Hou Yifan (Chn), Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Vie), Shankland Samuel (USA), Fedoseev (Rus) and Rambaldi (Ita). He played at 2655 Elo and is gaining 26.1 Elo from this single event.

Untitled Prantik Roy and FM Rohan Ahuja completed IM norms. Prantik won one game and lost one to draw seven and play at 2509  and make an IM norm at 4.5/9. Rohan Ahuja started with 0/2 against Russians, Sjugirov and Vitiugov. In the last seven he made 4.5/7 to clock 2546 rating performance and gain 13.9 Elo and also pocket an IM norm. R Vaishali made a WIM norm while Raja Harshit and M.N. Shaikh made IM norms also.

Eesha Karavade gained over 20 Elo and her three wins included two over Irina Krush (USA) and Stefanova (Bul). She started 115 seed and finished 61st. Our titles hope Harikrishna started as ninth seed and finished eleventh for a push performance. Former six-time Indian champion Surya S Ganguly impressed by starting as the 30th seed and finishing tenth. He also gained 12 Elo points.

Former Indian champion Sethuraman did not play a single draw, and won the last three games in a row to finish with 6/9 for a push rating performance. Sasikiran and Vidit Gujrathi marginally under performed in the rating scale with 5.5/9.

India had the most players at 28 followed by Russia at 19, followed by China 14 and Iran 7. A total of 132 players from 30 nations took part in this nine round Swiss held from Dec 20-29, 2015. The field had 71 GMs, 5 WGMs, 36 IMs, three WIMs, 8 FMs and one WFM. A total of 124 of them had titles leaving only eight untitled.

The event was organised by the Qatar Chess Association. The tournament director was GM Mohammed Al-Medaihki and the chief arbiter was IA Takis Nikolopoulos of Greece.

Final placings (tie-break order): 1-2. GM Magnus Carlsen (Nor), GM Yu Yangyi (Chn) 7/9 each;  3-7. GM Vladimir Kramnik (Rus), GM Sergey Karjakin (Rus)m GM Sanan Sjugirov (Rus), GM Ni Hua (Chn), GM Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr) 6.5 each; 8-17. GM Anish Giri (Ned), Xu Yinglun (Chn), GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly, GM Pentala Harikrishna (both Ind), GM Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr), GM Vladimir Akopian (Arm), GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof (Pol), GM Nguyen Ngoc, Truong Son (Vie), GM Nikita Vitiugov (Rus), GM S.P. Sethuraman (Ind) 6 each.