India’s growing reputation in international chess was underlined in splendid fashion on the serene campus of the National Library on a cool Sunday evening.
In a tournament featuring some of the biggest names in the mind sport, the country’s young talent won both the titles in the blitz section of the Tata Steel Chess India. If Arjun Erigaisi’s victory was hardly a surprise in the open section, R. Vaishali’s, in the women’s, certainly was.
“This is the best tournament victory of my career,’ said the 21-year-old from Chennai. This triumph should be a shot in the arm for the elder sister of R. Praggnanandhaa, who, however, had a disappointing outing, finishing sixth in the opening section. Arjun won that section with a round to spare.
“Last year, I wasn’t among the favourites, and this time I wanted to win the blitz after finishing second in the rapid,” said Arjun, who last year had won the rapid and ended second in the blitz.
In the blitz, Nakamura finished second and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan was third. In the women’s section, Ukraine’s Mariya Muzychuk took the runner-up spot, while Dronavalli Harika was third.
The results (Indians unless specified)
Eighteenth round: Open: Hikaru Nakamura (US) 11.5 bt R. Praggnanandhaa 8.5; D. Gukesh 6.5 lost to Wesley So (US) 8; Vidit Gujrathi 9 bt Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze) 9.5; Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb) 7.5 drew with Parham Maghsoodloo (IRI) 9; Nihal Sarin 8 drew with Arjun Erigaisi 12.5.
Women: Koneru Humpy 9.5 bt Oliwia Kiolbasa (Pol) 6; R. Vaishali 13.5 drew with Anna Ushenina (Ukr) 8.5; B. Savitha Shri 6.5 lost to Dronavalli Harika 11; Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) 12 lost to Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) 8.5; Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) 10.5 bt Bhakti Kulkarni 4.
Open: 1. Arjun; 2. Hikaru Nakamura; 3. Mamedyarov; 4-5. Parham and Vidit; 6. Praggnanandhaa; 7-8. Nihal and So; 9. Abdusattorov; 10. Gukesh.
Women: 1. Vaishali; 2. Mariya Muzychuk; 3. Harika; 4. Anna Muzychuk; 5. Humpy; 6-7. Ushenina and Dzagnidze; 8. Savitha; 9. Kiolbasa; 10. Bhakti.