Gibraltar Masters: GM Abhijeet Gupta and GM Debashis Das best among Indians

Photos Courtesy: Patricia Claros Aguilar

The 2018 Tradewise Gibraltar Masters, which came to an end on 1st February at the Caleta Hotel. was won by GM Levon Aronian of Armenia. The ten-round Open tournament with a total prize fund of £ 200,000 proved to be a memorable tournament for Indians. 13-year-old FM Prithu Gupta completed his IM title requirements and scored his maiden Grandmaster norm and FM Raunak Sadhwani scored an IM norm.

Notably, GM Abhijeet Gupta was the best performer among Indians, he finished 9th in the Masters. He defeated Ukranian legend GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2726) in round 8 and held GM Boris Gelfand (2697) to a draw in the subsequent round.

“My results were okay, winning last round would have been better but overall a satisfactory performance,” he said to AICF.

Next to Gupta, Odisha’s first grandmaster Debashis Das defeated bigwigs such as GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo (2650) and GM Sandipan Chanda (2579) to finish on the 10th spot.

GM Debashis Das

Debashis commented,”Out of 10 rounds I scored 7 points—4 wins plus six draws. The 2nd round victory against GM David Navara was very crucial. After that, I got the momentum. I played quite solid chess. Six draws and then in the 9th round, I was black against GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo. In the opening, by playing …Bg4 I created a situation to complicate the position. I had the attack and was able to put pressure. He had to defend precisely, instead, he grabbed my b7 pawn which I think was a decisive mistake and then I managed to clinch the victory quite convincingly.”

“Last round I played a good positional game against GM Sandipan Chanda. What I had prepared, luckily he played exactly the same and I got an excellent position out of the opening. I managed to find proper squares for my pieces and at one point Qd6 was really beautiful.”

“Lastly, I came 10th in Gibraltar, which is really a great achievement for a 2501 rating player. So far this is my life’s best performance. I am very happy and motivated to work even harder for my next tournament Aeroflot (Group-A) from February 19-01 March,” he told AICF.

Tamil Nadu’s GM Sethuraman S.P. played against GM Levon Aronian in round 9. Sethuraman scored 7.0/10 points.

“Was a decent performance half a point behind the leaders but it meant a lot. Was able to come back with three wins after my fifth round loss. The penultimate round was crucial. Lost the final round with Aronian the eventual winner,” said Sethuraman.

He will be next seen in action at Aeroflot Open this month.

IM Nihal Sarin scored 6.5/10 points

13-year-old FM Prithu Gupta completed his IM title and achieved his maiden GM norm with a fantastic performance. He was solid right from the get go an was able to maintain it until the end.
Delhi’s IM Hemant Sharma secured a draw against compatriot GM P. Harikrishna in the second round. Hemant had a tournament to remember!

“Well, I had a wonderful start, holding GM Harikrishna for a draw. So far, it is the best result of my life, as he has almost 2750 rating! I never thought I would be paired against the top-seed GM Levon Aronian, and it happened in the second round! It was like a dream to play against one of my chess idols. I didn’t play well but enjoyed the game. In the 4th round, I beat Marin Bosiocic (2628), my career’s highest-rated win. After that, I gained the confidence to score a GM-norm. But who would have thought? I didn’t anticipate that I would make 6 draws in a row! Out of these 6 draws, one or two I could have won if I had played more carefully. Finished with 2550+ performance and +51 Elo, am really happy with my performance and hope to play Gibraltar next year again.” Hemant said to AICF.

Maharastra’s FM Raunak Sadhwani scored second IM norm. Starting as a 162nd seed with a rating of 2321, Raunak collected 4.5 points to finish the event at 159th spot.
The tournament had 28 Indians participating in the Masters section.

Final Ranking after 10 Rounds

Rk. SNo Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1  TB2
1 1 GM Aronian Levon ARM 2797 7,5 3,0 2746
2 2 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2793 7,5 2,0 2759
3 3 GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2781 7,5 1,0 2822
4 12 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2700 7,5 0,0 2763
5 7 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2732 7,5 0,0 2731
11 GM Adams Michael ENG 2709 7,5 0,0 2731
7 6 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2737 7,5 0,0 2713
8 16 GM Howell David W L ENG 2682 7,0 0,0 2760
9 31 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2610 7,0 0,0 2732
10 81 GM Debashis Das IND 2501 7,0 0,0 2728
11 9 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof POL 2724 7,0 0,0 2713
33 GM Oparin Grigoriy RUS 2607 7,0 0,0 2713
13 10 GM Wang Hao CHN 2711 7,0 0,0 2710
14 32 GM Vocaturo Daniele ITA 2609 7,0 0,0 2679
15 14 GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2697 7,0 0,0 2673
16 25 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2646 7,0 0,0 2672
17 19 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2673 7,0 0,0 2668
18 15 GM Dubov Daniil RUS 2694 7,0 0,0 2658
19 116 Henderson De La Fuente Lance ESP 2429 7,0 0,0 2642
20 93 GM Kobo Ori ISR 2477 7,0 0,0 2638