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Arjun outplays Safarli in Sharjah Masters

May 15, 2024 19:11 IST

Photograph: Kind courtesy Erigaise Arjun/X

World number seven Erigaise Arjun started his campaign on a positive note, outplaying Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan in the first round of the Sharjah Masters chess tournament in Sharjah.

Indian Grandmasters Aravindh Chithamabaram and P Iniyan also started on the winning side defeating compatriot Bharath Subramaniyam and Irani Pouya of Iran respectively in the USD 52000 prize money tournament considered as one of the strongest open of the world.


Besides the three Indian winners two young players having Indian origin – Abhimanyu Mishra of United States and lowest seed Shreyas Royal of England also recorded victories at the expense of Raja Ritvik and Rinat Jumabayev of Kazakhstan respectively.

It was generally a tough day for the higher seeded players as they conceded a lot of draws. The strength of the tournament became clear on the opening day itself with just 18 decisive games out of total 44.

Arjun though was relentless and capitalized on a strategic middle game error from Safarli who suffered for the rest of the game.

A Najdorf by the Azerbaijani as black was met with the Classical treatment and Arjun gained the upper hand when Safarli went for unwarranted complications giving Arjun a dangerous passed pawn in the middle game.

Arjun marched his pawn to the seventh rank collected a rook for a knight and cruised through.

Chithambaram gave a nice lesson on the Bishop pair advantage to Subramaniyam. Chithambaram sacrificed  a pawn early in the queen pawn opening and regained it later in the middle game with a decent advantage. The Bishop pair hardly moved but controlled key squares for any counterplay.

Iniyan also played a fine game to beat Idani Pouya. It was another Queen pawn game of the day wherein Iniyan got a queen side pawn majority when the dust settled.

The Iranian was left shocked in a difficult but defendable Knight and pawns endgame when Iniyan spotted this brilliant tactic through a knight sacrifice. The game lasted 49 moves.

Amongst other Indians in the fray, S L Narayanan had to split the point with Turkish Sanal Vahap while young Turk Yagiz Kaan Erdogmus held Nihal Sarin to a creditable draw.

The lone Indian women in the fray, GM D Harika got off to a good start holding Manuel Petrosyan of Armenia but Leon Luke Mendonca, the winner of this year's Tata Steel Challenger went down to Polish Marcin Krzyzanowski. Eight rounds still remain in the 88-player tournament.

Indian results round 1 (Indians unless stated):

Erigaisi Arjun beat Eltaj Safarli (Aze); S P Sethuraman drew with Temour Radjabov (Aze); Amin Tabatabaei (Iri) beat V Pranav; S L Narayanan drew with Sanal Vahap Tur); Yagiz Kaan Erdogmus (Tur) drew with Nihal Sarin; Aravindh Chithambaram beat Bharath Subramaniyam; Raunak Sadhwani drew with David Gavrilescu (Rou); Sankalp Gupta drew with Ter-Sahakyan Samvel (Arm); Nguyen Thai Dai Van (Cze) beat Pranav Anand; Leon Luke Mendonca lost to Marcin Krzyzanowski (Pol); Abhimanyu Mishra (Usa) beat Raja Rithvik; Abhimanyu Puranik drew with B Adhiban; D Harika drew with Manuel Petrosyan (Arm); Nikolas Theodorou (Gre) beat Aditya Samant Samant; Aditya Mittal drew with Cardoso Jose Gabriel (Esp); P Iniyan beat  Idani Pouya (Iri); Abhijeet Gupta  drew with Bibisara Assaubayeva (Kaz).

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