Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rd.6 Sasi and Lalith keep moving ahead!!

The leaders of the tournament simply arent ready even let go off anything! They are winning round after round! Lalith Babu and Sasikiran lead the tournament with 5.5/6 and Adhiban follows them closely on the second spot with 5/6. Round 6 was a Caro Kann day. As many as 3 games out of 7 witnessed this solid opening and guess what! Black scored 2.5/3!! So lets see how the games were in the round 6.


Sasikiran surprised Ashwin in the opening with the Caro Kann defense. As Ashwin said after the game, he hadn't prepared anything specific. He just would figure out as the game progressed. The Nd2 variation in Caro Kann is not known as being dangerous for black yet there is no concrete theory. This can be a good idea as well a dangerous decision against Sasikiran. Good because he might not have analysed this position in depth and dangerous because if its an unknown position for both then the superior player has better chances to win! But Ashwin showed that he too can match the playing level of a 2650+ player as he played some very good chess. The game reached its pinnacle of excitement as Sasikiran had sacrificed an exchange. Ashwin had an edge in the position, he picked off a black pawn on f7. But it was a poisoned one, as Sasikiran had set a small trap! Ashwin lost a piece and very soon the game. Its an open question as to what would have happened if Ashwin wouldn't have blundered but then blunders a part of chess. Every blunder after the game looks silly but during the game its just a good idea that was not well calculated!! :)

Debashis came to the game very focussed. As you can see from his pic, He just wanted to play his best chess. Shyam Nikhil, Surprised him with the dutch defense. Now Debashis had lost a game with Vidit in the World Juniors in the same opening. So he decided to play it safe. He played a positional line trying to control the dark squares in the black position. The Manoeuvre of his knight from b3 to c1 to d3 was exotic but at the same time very logical. It seemed as if Shyam would be totally under a bind, but he was alert to the situation and played very actively. Though Debashis managed to win a pawn, Shyam's activity was enough for a draw!

It was an interesting Sicilian battle in which Stany tried to mate black with his attack. However Adhiban is an experienced Sicilian player and he fended off the attack quite well. Once the attack was repelled and queen's were exchanged. Its quite a famous saying, that Sicilian endgames usually favour black. Black seemed very comfortable in the endgame but uncharacteristically, Adhiban made a few errors. That meant Stany had the advantage. But to beat a good player you must not only beat him in the opening but also in the middlegame and also in the endgame. Stany wasnt able to make the best moves and Adhiban took over! From that moment, Adhiban played carefully and secured a win! This means after the first two draws he has scored 4 wins on a trot. He will go with a very happy feeling into the rest day!
Negi finally did something that he is known for!! On the 17th move of Classical Caro Kann he unleashed a novelty. By moving the knight to the edge of the board, He put Thejkumar under a lot of pressure. After all he was sitting against a 2671 player and facing a home prepared novelty! But Thejkumar is a very tough man to beat! He took loads of time. At one point he was almost an hour behind Negi but he made the best moves as Black! Soon he snatched over the intiative and also had an advantage. But with so little time on clock, Thejkumar decided to take a practical decision and simplify the position. But what he did was not so smart. He went into a queen endgame where Negi had a queenside majority where as Thej's h6 and g7 pawn were clamped by Negi's h5 pawn. So any queen exchange would be detrimental to Thej's interests. But look at how one mistake changes the position drastically. As Negi made a careless move, it allowed Thejkumar to push his pawn to g5. Once this happened, the position changed 360 degrees, Any queen exchange would now lose for Negi!! Seeing that there is no way to win, Negi accepted the draw offer!

Lalith is definitely one of the best Caro Kann exponents in the country. He kept his status intact as he played a superb game to gain a full point. Though Akash's play was not really ideal, we cannot take away the credit from Lalith. He first won the light squared bishop with a little tactical idea of Ne3! Now he was all set to to break white's position with c5. Seeing this Akash played b4 to stop this. However nothing can stop Lalith in this tournament. Once he set his eyes on playing c5, he will play it! There was nothing Akash could really do as his bad position turned to worse and finally before he would be annihilated, he threw in the towel!

The leningrad variation of the Nimzo is quite a complicated opening for black to play but Deepan did just as the text books order. He captured the center with the moves c5 and d5. Akshat who thought that he could really take advantage of the weak pawns tried to be too subtle. This was not such a good strategy as Deepan seeing the white king in the center, broke the center with d4. Already white was under considerable trouble but Akshat's position fell apart when he missed the tactical d3. After that he was just a piece down and it ended in a easy win for Deepan. I could even go to the extent to say that this was the easiest win for anyone at the current National Premier! So Deepan is in great form with 4.5/6. and is well on his way to crossing the 2500 mark again!

Vishnu who was having bad tournament met the man who was having a worse tournament! But today Ratnakaran really played a wonderful opening. The Czech Benoni opening ended in a wonderful position for the black player. Vishnu was really on the backfoot. Ratnakaran's bishop on e5 was holding his entire position together but then he did something inexplicable. For a few tactical possibilites he exchanges his bishop. this meant that Vishnu could pile up the pressure at his own leisurely pace. Soon it was a one sided battle which resulted in the black king getting mated! This is the first win for the Chennai GM. We can hope that he will be back in form and beat some of the top guys so that the tournament becomes more interesting.

What's the point of having an official dinner in a tournament? Well in a way its the organisers way of telling the players that we care about you and we want to give you a great time in the tournament. The other benefit is that the player's come out of the competitive environment and mingle with each other due to which better camaraderie develops between them.
The Organisers arranged for an official dinner on the 22nd of December after the 6th Round at the President's hotel which is one of the best Hotel's in Jalgaon.

This hotel was also the place at which the National Women Premier was held in 2012. It was an open roof restaurant and the players felt a refreshing change from the monotonous routine.

The players were taken in a Mini Van to the hotel! One of the players commented that it felt like they were being released from the jail!! :) So intense was the atmosphere in the Jain hills for the past 6 days!

Once the players were out of the tournament venue, you can see how relaxed they were!! Ashwin surely was, the same cannot be said about Negi!! :)

Akash and Shyam Nikhil hardly spoke anything! However they enjoyed the wonderful food and were fully attentive to what others were speaking!!
Akshat and Prof.Ananthraman drinking soft drinks in Hard drinks style!! :)
The two Gems of Karnataka. Thejkumar and Stany.

The trio of GMs: Debashis Das, Vishnu Prasanna and Deepan Chakravarthy!

With his witty remarks he is able to bring a laughter on anybody's face: GM Abhijit Kunte with Deepan and Lalith Babu!

Rathnakaran had a great time and seems like he is now mentally prepared for the 2nd half of the tournament.

Sasi who is usually very serious and tensed during a game, was visibly relaxed and at ease at the dinner. He was truly the life of the party!! He was bombarded with a lot of questions but he answered them with a smile on his face!! :)

The people accompanying the players also received a well earned break from the tense and rigorous schedule!

All the GMs in one frame: From left Debashis, Sasi, Negi, Lalith, Farrukh Sheikh(organiser),Deepan,Abhijit,Adhiban and Vishnu.
All the IMs: from left Akash, Ashwin, Stany, Farrukh Sheikh(Org) ,Akshat, Thej,Shyam and Ratna!!
The team of Arbiters and Organisers who have been doing there job so meticulously.

Well it was also a good break for me! But of course I enjoy my job so much that even on the rest day I am writing this report to you!! :)

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