Chennai GM Rd. 01-03: Big names begin to bite the dust but will the trend worsen?

All Photos unless mentioned are by David Llada

The older Russians will envy Chennai. It is all that a Russian chess fanatic can only dream of, these days.

The USSR crashed and Russia was born. But long before that, the Soviet leaders had made sure that the idea behind the Communist State would be spread all over the world in the form of ‘Horcruxes’. For the Soviets, Chess was the Horcrux. The fictional Lord Voldemort would have been proud.

One of the places where the Soviets planted chess was Madras. The city that gave India its first International Master. The city that gave India its first Grandmaster. The city that gave India its first World Champion. The city also gave India its first chess news platform, revolutionizing chess coverage forever — Chess Mate.

India’s first International Master — the legendary IM Manuel Aaron who recently turned 82. Aaron also founded ChessMate, the magazine that revolutionized Indian chess news reporting.

It would be an understatement to say that chess is crazily popular in Chennai. Or as GM Srinath Narayanan would put it, “I am not even the highest rated player in my pin code!” (Chennai has about 150 odd pin codes)

The 2018 edition of the Chennai GM Open took off on 18 January at the Vijay Park Hotel. Most of the previous editions of the tournament used to be held at the iconic Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where even the AICF office is located. This time, the change in venue resulted in some forfeits.

Six players from the French Island of La Réunion missed the first round due to this. It sometimes pays to recheck the variations you calculate.

The playing arena
WFM Divya Deshmukh (Photo by Priyadarshan Banjan)

The story of the tournament so far is the murder of the seasoned grandmaster Nguyen Duc Hoa in the third round. And the killer was the super-talent from Nagpur, WFM Divya Deshmukh. Duc Hoa is famous in the Indian chess circuit as he has won several GM opens in the country.

But the Vietnamese was already in big trouble in the first round when he had a close to a lost position with black against Anup Shankar of Tamil Nadu.

GM Suat Atalik, rated 2538, was clearly tired in the first round game

Atalik outplayed his opponent Thrish Karthik, rated 1811, from the white side of a Kings Indian. All was well and Suat was well on course for a smooth victory. His pieces were better positioned than Karthik’s. He got a nice pawn break on the kingside with g3!. Everything was under control. Everything looked under control.

But blessed is the chess culture of Chennai. Or cursed, maybe. Depends on the side you are looking it from. A tired Suat, playing his fourth consecutive tournament, fumbled and the position looked like only a draw towards the end.

What? Only a draw? No. That would be unacceptable. Suat was winning. Such a crushing position. Suat will try to win it…

Alas, 70.Bb5 was a blunder. The Tamil Nadu youngster pinned the bishop and won the game. Keeping the bishop on the long diagonal would have been enough to draw, at least.
The eccentric American (not the first), GM Timur Gareyev (2605) is the top seed of the tournament. He continues to play enterprising chess and win hearts with his fearless, and fresh playing style. He has managed to stay on 3.0/3 despite essaying 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Qf6 in his third round game.
Second seed Russian GM Ivan Rozum, rated 2595, started with a draw against Maharashtra’s Harshal Patil, rated 1850. Since then he has rebounded to 2.5/3.
Fourth seed GM Yuri Solodovnichenko of Ukraine, rated 2571.
Vietnamese talent GM Tran Tuan Minh rated 2548.

Big names have begun to bite the dust but will the trend worsen? We will find out in the upcoming rounds.

Watch all games here.

Round 4 on 2018/01/20 at 10:00 hrs

Bo. No. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Name Rtg No.
1 1 GM Gareyev Timur 2605 3 3 IM Sangma Rahul 2332 28
2 3 GM Tiviakov Sergei 2584 3 3 Saravana Krishnan P. 2323 30
3 5 GM Tukhaev Adam 2570 3 3 Muthaiah Al 2291 34
4 19 GM Laxman R.R. 2434 3 3 GM Sivuk Vitaly 2550 6
5 21 IM Llaneza Vega Marcos 2421 3 3 GM Tran Tuan Minh 2548 7
6 29 FM Hafiz Arif Abdul 2324 3 3 GM Horvath Adam 2484 12
7 13 FM Karthik Venkataraman 2476 3 3 FM Gajwa Ankit 2284 36
8 35 IM Deshmukh Anup 2285 3 3 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. 2475 14
9 2 GM Rozum Ivan 2595 3 Dixit Nikhil 2139 64
10 4 GM Solodovnichenko Yuri 2571 Harikrishnan.A.Ra 2222 45