Serbian Open: Kovalenko and Nihal in the lead


Nihal in Belgrade

A large Indian chess group is currently traveling in the Balkans. He is led, in terms of playing strength, by 16-year-old Nihal Sarin. The prodigy turns 17 on July 13 and, along with Praggnanandhaa, is one of the best-known Indian talents. Besides these two top-flight players, however, there are a number of other young Indian players that we will hear a lot about in the future.

In the ChessBase online player database, you can get an overview. For example, here is a list of Indian gamers up to 20 years old with an Elo rating of 2400+. There is also a new Anand – Anand Pranev, currently 15 years old.

Viswanthan Anand was the trigger for this incredible chess boom in India. He is the only player to become world champion in all formats – FIDE knockout world champion in 2000, winner of the world championship tournament in 2007 and winner of matches against Kramnik (2008), Topalov (2010) and Gelfand (2012). In his home country, Anand is one of the most famous sportsmen and has received many honors. With his personality, Anand also made chess enjoyed a high reputation in India.

While his predecessors as world champion Kasparov and Kramnik have already retired from chess tournaments, Anand, who is now over 50, still plays and is among the top 15 players on the planet.

Moreover, the Indian idol is not that far away from some of his admirers at the moment. Anand remains in Croatia and participates in the Grand Chess Tour, which started today in Zagreb.

The group of Indian players in Serbia are staying at the Metropol Palace Hotel, where the Serbian Open is taking place. Besides Nihal, winner of the Silver Lake Open, the group includes three other grandmasters: Puranik Abhimanyu (born 2000), Arjun Erigaisi (born 2003), who recently reached the knockout stages of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid tournament, and Raunak Sadhwani (born 2005).

The top planks

The Chess Festival in Serbia includes two tournaments, a Masters event and an Amateur event. About 280 players participate in the Masters. The ranking favorite is Russian general manager Vladimir Fedoseev (2696).

Vladimir Fedoseev

Over 30 other grandmasters are competing for the tournament title. After 7 out of 9 rounds, Igor Kovalenko and Nihal Sarin are in the lead. Both have collected 6 points so far.

In the seventh round, Nihal beat his compatriot Sanal.

White has sacrificed a pawn in the opening and is seeking compensation.

21 … Nd7 22.c4 To open lines in front of the black king. [Better was 22.Nf1 Bc5 23.Qd3. Black then has 23…g5]

22 … Bc5 23.Da1 [23.Qd1 Bxe3 24.Bxe3 dxc4 threatening Ne5.]

23 … d4 Avoid opening the lines on the queen side.

24.Bd5 White goes there. [24.Bf1 g5 and Black is on the attack.]

24 … Kb8 Black has time, since the d5 knight has no safe space to retreat. [Also 24…exd5 25.cxd5 Bxd5 26.Bf5 was playable for Black. After 26…Rhe8 27.Rxc5+ Qxc5 28.Rc1 Black still has 28…Bc4]

25.Rd1 Bd2 is a threat now.

25 … exd5 26.e6 + Ka8 27.cxd5 [27.exd7 dxc4–+]

27 … Bxd5 28.exd7 Rxd7

Black has untangled and has two more pawns and the best position. The white position is now quickly dismantled.

29.Bf5 Te7 30.a4 Rhe8 31.Rbc1 Bc6 32.Bg4 d3 33.Txd3 Qb4 34.g3 De4 35.Tf3 Bxf2 + 36.Kh2 [36.Kxf2 Qe2+ 37.Kg1 Bxf3 38.Bxf3 Qxf3 39.Rf1 Qxh5–+]

36 … Bd4 37.Qa3 f5 38.Txc6 fxg4 The white will be mated soon. 0–1

The two leaders, Nihal and Kovalenko, face off in the eighth round.

There are a number of well-known players in the field who are obviously happy to come back to the (physical) boards in a strong over-the-board tournament. Among them, for example, the first female European champion, Natalia Zhukova.

Natalia Joukova

Ranking after the 7th round

1 Kovalenko Igor 6.0 0.0
2 Nihal Sarin 6.0 0.0
3 Shevchenko Kirill 5.5 0.0
4 Petrossian Manuel 5.5 0.0
5 Indjic Aleksandar 5.5 0.0
6 Aleksandrov Aleksej 5.5 0.0
7 Fedoseev Vladimir 5.5 0.0
8 Basso Pier Luigi 5.5 0.0
9 Safarli Eltaj 5.5 0.0
ten Pranav V 5.5 0.0
11 Makhnev Denis 5.5 0.0
12 Hovhannisyan Robert 5.5 0.0
13 Nenezic Marko 5.5 0.0
14 Bernadskiy Vitaliy 5.5 0.0
15 Warmerdam Max 5.5 0.0
16 Nikitenko Mihail 5.5 0.0
17 Aditya mittal 5.5 0.0
18 Ter-Sahakyan Samvel 5.0 0.0
19 Sanal Vahap 5.0 0.0
20 Kuzubov Yuriy 5.0 0.0

… 287 players

All available games


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