Erigaisi Wins Tata Steel Chess India Rapid -

2021-12-27 21:42:41 By : Ms. Scarlet Wu

After making a great impression at the Lindores Abbey Blitz tournament last week, GM Arjun Erigaisi did even better in Kolkata, India as the winner of the Tata Steel Chess India rapid tournament. The talented 18-year-old Indian GM clinched the rapid title on Friday as he finished a point ahead of GMs Levon Aronian, Praggnanandhaa R., and Vidit Gujrathi.

After two editions in 2018 and 2019, the pandemic made a third tournament impossible in 2020, but the Tata Steel Chess India tournament returned to the calendar this year. No longer part of the Grand Chess Tour, the event consists of two stand-alone tournaments, following the familiar format of three days of rapid and two days of blitz.The field of players this year isn't as strong as in 2018 and especially 2019 when GM Magnus Carlsen played. The world champion, who is busy preparing for his fifth world championship match starting in a week from now, said in a video message before the start of the tournament that he does intend to return to Kolkata.

A number of players are playing both the rapid and blitz tournaments, including Aronian, Vidit, GMs Sam Shankland, Parham Maghsoodloo, and Le Quang Liem. Normally, GM Baskaran Adhiban—who got married to Srinithi just a few days before the tournament—would play in both as well, but he has withdrawn from the blitz and the logical choice for his replacement was... Erigaisi.

GM Murali Karthikeyan and WGM Vaishali R. played only the rapid and, for the blitz, we'll see new names join tomorrow: GMs Nihal Sarin, Gukesh D., Raunak Sadhwani, and Harika Dronavalli.

Wednesday, the first day of play, was dominated by Aronian. The Armenian grandmaster, who will soon start representing the U.S. and who recently moved to St. Louis, started with a perfect 3/3. Shankland was close to a draw in the first round, but allowed his fortress to be broken with a careless king move:

A nice twist in that first round was the clash between brother Praggnanandhaa (16) and sister Vaishali (20), a big fight that ended in a draw: 

Whereas Aronian had used up most of his ammunition on the first day (scoring a loss and five draws in the remainder), it was Erigaisi who surged to the top on the second day—setting a perfect 3/3—and stayed there by finishing with three draws on Friday.

Erigaisi's win in round three against his compatriot Karthikeyan showed that the London System doesn't always lead to quiet positions out of the opening:

A turning point in Aronian's tournament was his (spectacular) loss to Le in round four where he was winning in an incredibly complicated middlegame:

Erigaisi's win vs. Le was another key game for the final result of the tournament. White's last move shows the power of a queen to the full extent as it attacks g7 and protects g1 all the way from a7 in the final position:

Erigaisi called it "such a great feeling" and "a dream come true" afterward while not having big expectations beforehand: "I just wanted to play good chess."