If it was Arjun Erigaisi last year, it is Nihal Sarin this year – the teenaged Indian champion at the Tata Steel Chess India.
Interestingly enough, Arjun did spoil Nihal’s party a bit in the end, winning their final round game with what turned out to be some remarkably precise preparation, but the latter had already pocketed the top prize in the rapid section. Arjun finished runner-up.
Nihal won the tournament with a round to spare, in fact. It is quite some feat at this level. “It’s easily my best performance,” said the 18-year-old from Thrissur, Kerala.
Anna Ushenina belongs to a land that is much farther away and is going through a harrowing time. But the Ukrainian woman had a reason to be happy at the National Library here on Thursday. She emerged as the champion in the women’s event after winning both her tie-breaker games against Georgia’s Nana Dzagnidze.
“I think I should only play in India,” she said smiling, referring to the gold medal the Ukraine women’s won at the Chess Olympiad in Chennai three months ago.
The results (Indians unless specified):
Open: Ninth round: S.P. Sethuraman 2 lost to Hikaru Nakamura (US) 4.5; So Wesley (US) 4 bt D. Gukesh 4.5; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze) 4.5 drew with Vidit Gujrathi 4.5; Parham Maghsoodloo (IRI) 4 drew with Nodiberk Abdusattarov (Uzb) 4.5; Arjun Erigaisi 6 bt Nihal Sarin 6.5.
Standings: 1. Nihal, 2. Arjun, 3-7. Vidit, Nakamura, Gukesh, Mamedyarov and Abdusattorov; 8-9. Maghsoodloo and Wesley; 10. Sethuraman.
Women: Ninth round: Oliwia Kiolbasa (Pol) 4.5 bt Koneru Humpy 5; Anna Ushenina (Ukr) 6.5 drew with R. Vaishali 5; Dronavalli Harika 5.5 bt B. Savitha Shri 1; Nana Dagnidze (Geo) 6.5 drew with Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) 5; Vantika Agrawal 3 bt Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) 3.
Tie-breaker: Nana Dzagnidze lost to Anna Ushenina 0-2.
Standings: 1-2. Ushenina and Dzagnidze; 3. Harika, 4-6. Mariya, Humpy and Vaishali; 7. Kiolbasa 4.5; 8-9. Vantika and Anna; 10. Anna and Savitha.