Fearless, innovative Adhiban stands out

B. Adhiban provided the proverbial silver lining to the Indian performance at the World Team chess championship.

B. Adhiban bounced back well from defeats in the first two rounds of the World Team chess championship.   -  R. Ravindran

India’s fourth-place finish in the recent World Team chess championship disappointed those who expected the squad to punch above its weight. But B. Adhiban provided the proverbial silver lining to the Indian performance. Staggering after two rounds, Adhiban showed how to fight and come out stronger.

He turned a horrific start – defeats in the first two rounds – into a healthy finish by posting five victories, a draw and a loss in the remainder of the competition.

In contrast, spearhead Vidit Gujrathi won the first game and drew eight times on the top board, Murali Karthikeyan contributed 1.5 points from three outings, an unbeaten K. Sasikiran tallied 4.5 from seven games and Parimarjan Negi, temporarily coming out of a self-imposed retirement, scored four points from eight encounters.

Adhiban’s fearless response stood out. In fact, he reproduced glimpses of his dream run in the elite Tata Steel Chess in Wijk aan Zee this January. Playing his first elite event, Adhiban had just one point from four rounds but won four times to finish third with 7.5 points from 13 games. Significantly, Adhiban defeated the last World championship’s challenger Sergey Karjakin and almost beat World champion Magnus Carslen before agreeing for a draw.

Last fortnight, rated 2670 and ranked fourth in the country, Adhiban got off on the wrong foot by losing to Poland’s Jan-Kryzysztof Duda (rated 2697) and China’s Yu Yangyi (2749). This also meant a loss of 8.5 rating points.

Uncompromising

Undeterred, Adhiban showed amazing grit and sense of purpose. Continuing with his uncompromising ways, he belted out three straight victories. His victims included Vladislav Kovalev (Belarus, 2641), a vastly experienced Varuzhan Akobian (USA, 2673) and Egypt’s Adham Fawzy (2418).

Though it is easy to dismiss his triumph over the Egyptian, but it must be remembered India got past the weakest opposition in the 10-team competition only due to Adhiban’s victory as the other three boards ended as draws.

Against a quietly-confident Turkey, Adhiban lost to Mustafa Yilmaz (2630) in a tie that India drew. But true to is character, he bounced right back to nail Ukraine’s Anton Korobov (2711). Against Russia, Adhiban held Ian Nepomniachtchi (2731) and nailed Norway’s Johan Salomon (2501) in the final round.

The performances helped Adhiban gain 6.7 rating points, which will take him 13 places higher to the 67th spot in the upcoming World rankings on July 1.

Adhiban’s all-or-nothing attitude has so far brought delightful results. But to excel among the elite, he will have to bring down his percentage of losses. No doubt, his winning frequency will be difficult to maintain. Given his refreshing method that involves deep preparation and unrelenting search for new ideas, Adhiban is different from his peers.

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