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Nihal Sarin of India and Anna Ushenina of Ukraine win 4th edition of Tata Steel Chess India Rapid


Nihal Sarin of India in Men’s and Anna Ushenina of Ukraine in Women’s category wins 4th edition of Tata Steel Chess India Rapid


Kolkata, 1st December 2022 – On the final day of Rapid section of Tata Steel Chess India, Nihal Sarin of India emerged as the winner holding on his leading position at the end of the second day. Nihal Sarin finished with 6.5 points followed by Arjun Erigaisi finishing at 6 points. In the women’s category at the end of round 9 there was tie between Anna Ushenina and Nana Dzagnidze with both standing at 6.5 points. Anna displayed her determination at the tie-breaker matches and won both the tie matches and emerged as the winner of Rapid section of 4th edition of Tata Steel Chess India.


The Blitz competition of Tata Steel Chess India for both men and women category will be played on December3 – 4 at National Library.


Men’s Report


Round 7

GM Nihal Sarin continued his merry run with a victory over GM Mamedyarov Shakahriyar. Sarin was quick to pounce on Shakh’s inaccuracy and ended up winning a pawn with tremendous activity for his pieces. In the form he is, Sarin was not going to miss out. The powerful battery of the queen and bishop proved too strong for the Azeri GM to handle as he was forced to resign on move 34. In the other decisive contest, the current World Rapid Champion, Abdusattarov Nodirbek won against GM Wesley So in a long battle where the youngster’s Queen worked magic against Wesley’s Rook and Bishop. GM Arjun Erigaisi drew his game against GM Maghsoodloo Parham, while Gukesh drew against GM Hikaru Nakamura. In the other drawn contest, GM SP Sethuraman held GM Vidit Gujrathi in a marathon contest that lasted 123 moves.



Round 8

There’s absolutely nothing stopping Nihal Sarin as he brought up yet another win, this time against GM Maghsoodloo Parham. The youngster was on top of his game, as he has been, capitalizing on the minor accuracies by the former World Junior Champion. Sarin squeezed out a win in the endgame, showcasing amazing skills to overcome the Iranian. GM Gukesh won his game against GM Sethuraman in a Double Bishop vs Bishop and Knight end game. It was not at all trivial for Gukesh but after constant pressure on every move, things fell apart for Sethuraman on move 56 after a costly inaccuracy. In the final position, the same colour bishop was in Gukesh’s favor as he also won a couple of pawns easing it for the first player. GM Erigaisi delivered a strong blow with a victory over GM Hikaru Nakamura with the black pieces. By move 20, Erigaisi had a minor edge which he carried through till the end of the game. After the queens were exchanged, on move 46, Hikaru made minor inaccuracies which substantially improved the Indian’s chances, which he eventually converted masterfully. The games between GM Mamedyarov and GM Abdusattarov & GM Wesley So and GM Vidit Gujrathi ended in draws.


Round 9

Going into the last round, GM Nihal Sarin’s fabulous show meant that he was the champion with a round to spare. GM Erigaisi halted GM Sarin’s dream run with a nice win with the white pieces. The position was level until move 30 and both players had put their best foot forward. On move 31, Sarin blundered, leaving him an exchange down for the endgame. It was duly converted by Erigaisi on move 59. GM Hikaru won his match against SP Sethuraman after a long-fought battle in the endgame. In the Rook and Bishop vs Rook and Knight endgame, Hikaru took advantage of having pawns on the same side. The advanced pawns of Sethuraman made it difficult for him to defend against the sharp play of Hikaru. The game ended in the favor of the American GM in 74 moves. GM Wesley So ended the tournament on a high with a victory over D Gukesh in 51 moves. Gukesh had a very active position, with his pieces looking very dangerously placed near the opponent king. After the queens came off the board, Wesley got a small edge and went on to win the game after inaccuracies by the Indian later. GM Gujrathi drew his game against GM Mamedyarov, while GM Maghsoodloo drew his game against GM Nodirbek. A very impressive performance by the young Nihal Sarin, as he lands a major victory here in the Rapid Section. This show is a testament to Sarin’s consistent performances over the year.


Women’s Rapid


Round 7

Day 3 of the TATA Steel Chess India was all set for an exciting finish with as many as 4 players in close contention for the title. GM Anna Ushenina picked up from where she left off with a win against her Olympiad teammate, Muzychuk Mariya. The game seemed to be level for a major part of the opening and middle game. It was only after a seemingly casual pawn advance by Muzychuk on move 28 that the pendulum turned back in Anna’s favor. The unfortunate move put Anna in a completely winning position and she was too good to miss out on the opportunity presented. IM Kiolbasa Oliwia won her encounter against WIM Savitha Shri. Oliwia took advantage of the minor inaccuracies made by the young Indian and eventually found herself in a significantly better position with the opposite colored bishops. It was accurate play by the Polish as she went on to win the game in 51 moves. GM Nana Dzagnidze did her chances a world of good after a fine victory over WGM Vantika Agrawal. Agrawal did look to have some chances in the middlegame, but the dynamics of the King’s Indian opening setup backfired after a minor inaccuracy. One move lead to the other and the position became completely winning for the experienced Georgian GM. She was very precise in her approach and converted the game on move 35. GM Koneru Humpy made a quick draw with the black pieces against IM Vaishali, and GM Dronavalli Harika split the point with GM Anna Muzychuk. Both were short encounters that lasted 9 and 22 moves respectively.


Round 8

GM Anna Ushenina powered through with a dazzling win over young Savitha Shri. Playing with black, the Ukrainian employed the Sicilian Defense and got into the groove after a sacrifice didn’t work out from Savitha. Soon, the lines in front of Savitha’s king opened up which was expertly dominated by the experienced GM. IM Oliwia Kiolbasa got the better of R. Vaishali with the black pieces in a match where she never was in trouble. Vaishali chose to play the London Opening and the Polish IM looked well prepared. The second player launched a strong attack against the Indian IM and was able to undermine the safety of the opponent king. Soon, she won material and eventually went on to win in 34 moves. GM Anna Muzychuk and GM Nana Dzagnidze played out a fighting draw lasting 55 moves, while GM Dronavalli Harika split the point against GM Mariya Muzychuk in a fairly non-complicated game. Young Vantika Agrawal held GM Koneru Humpy to a draw playing the King’s Indian Defense. It was good play by Agrawal, who kept things very solid throughout, leaving Humpy with not many choices, but to agree to a draw.


Round 9

IM Oliwia Kiolbasa did it yet again with a victory over India No. 1, GM Koneru Humpy. Once again, it was the case where the second player had a solid position for the initial part of the game, and suddenly the position crumbled within a span of a few moves. Humpy found herself on the backfoot from move 27 onwards and never really could get back into the game. As it happened, the game ended on move 53 in the Polish IM’s favor. A very tough tournament came to an end for the young Savitha Shri after she succumbed to a defeat against GM Dronavalli Harika. Playing with white, Harika managed to trap Savitha’s knight on move 16. There was no way to get the knight out as Harika was virtually a piece up for the entirety of the game. She went on to win in 30 moves. The other decisive game was in WGM Vantika Agrawal’s game as she ended the tournament on a high with a victory over the experienced GM Anna Muzychuk. Agrawal got an advantage out of the opening and expertly guided herself toward the finishing line, building the position gradually. She managed to cramp the Ukrainian’s position completely, winning a piece in the process. Then, it was a matter of a few moves before Anna threw in the towel. GM Anna Ushenina maintained her lead with a draw against R. Vaishali. GM Nana Dzagnidze, too, played out a draw against Mariya Muzychuk in a tightly contested match.


Tie-breaks!


After round 9, GM Nana Dzagnidze and GM Anna Ushenina shared the top spot with the same points which forced the tiebreak! This meant that the match would go into a blitz match of 3 to decide the winner. While the two players would share the prize money of $7500 each, it was still all to play for to crown the first-ever Tata Steel Chess India Women’s Rapid Champion. In round 1 of the tiebreak, GM Ushenina played a great game with the black pieces. She equalized comfortably in the opening and took advantage of the Georgian’s weak pawns. In the endgame, the Ukrainian GM managed to create a passed pawn and seal both the advantage and the game. It was now a must-win match for GM Nana Dzagnidze since she had to level the score. With GM Ushenina needing just a draw to claim the title, the pressure was well and truly on the Georgian. And she had to do it with black pieces. GM Ushenina opted for a solid line with white and soon found an advantage out of the opening. She managed to crash through the defenses of GM Nana and launched an attack to seal the deal. A dominant display, both in the league matches and in the tiebreakers, meant that GM Anna was crowned the champion in the Womens’ contest. A well and truly deserved victory for the experienced GM from Ukraine.

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