Korobov Leads Sunway Sitges After Flying Start
The view from the main playing hall in Sitges. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

Korobov Leads Sunway Sitges After Flying Start

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

Third seed Anton Korobov of Ukraine started with a perfect 6/6 at the Sunway Sitges tournament before he drew with Vassily Ivanchuk in round seven. With three rounds to go, Korobov is half a point ahead of GMs Vasif Durarbayli of Azerbaijan and Puranik Abhimanyu of India.

The sixth Sunway Sitges international chess festival is taking place Dec. 13-22 at Hotel Sunway Playa Golf and Spa, which is about 35 kilometers southwest of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. As an official partner, is covering the tournament daily with a live broadcast.

The Sunway Sitges games of rounds eight (Friday) and nine (Saturday) start at 16:30 local time, which is 10:30 a.m. Eastern and 7:30 a.m. Pacific. The final round on Sunday will start at 9:30 local time, which is 3:30 a.m. Eastern and 12:30 a.m. Pacific. You can follow them here as part of our live portal. Commentary is provided by GM Daniel King and IM Anna Rudolf on

Much has happened in Sitges since our first report that covered the first three rounds. At that point, 17 players had started with three victories.

This report starts with Indian prodigy Praggnanandhaa R, who won an instructive game in round four against Nino Batsiashvili of Georgia. The way the young Indian met the h3-variation—without castling kingside and later going queenside instead—will be a joy for many King's Indian players.

Praggnanandhaa R Sunway Sitges 2019
Nice KID (King's Indian Defense) play by the kid! Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

For Pragg, 4/4 was a great start, but the next day Korobov was too strong. Still, the game was roughly equal for 38 moves, but the youngster started to play inaccurately as soon as the queens left the board.

Praggnanandhaa Korobov Sunway Sitges 2019
Praggnanandhaa playing Korobov. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

Korobov got to play the Najdorf again the next day but with the white pieces. Already a tempo down compared to the normal lines, 21-year-old Narayanan S.L. of India played a few uncommon moves after the opening and was soon without any counterplay.

Korobov Sunway Sitges 2019
Korobov in the studio after his win. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

Meanwhile, Pragg had to play his second, very strong Ukrainian in a row: Vassily Ivanchuk. The former number-two in the world had dropped two half points early but was back in contention after this crushing win against the rising Indian star:

Ivanchuk Praggnanandhaa Sunway Sitges 2019
A determined Ivanchuk starting his game with Praggnanandhaa. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

As Ivanchuk and Korobov played a relatively quick draw in round seven, two players got to just half a point behind the tournament leader: Durarbayli and Puranik. The latter, one of 85(!) Indian participants in Sitges, played a nice attacking game against Iran's Amin Tabatabaei.  

Puranik Tabatabaei Sunway Sitges 2019
Puranik vs. Tabatabaei. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

The round-eight pairings for Friday include the games Korobov-Durarbayli, Igor Kovalenko vs. Puranik and Awonder Liang vs. Ivanchuk. The tournament is a 10-round Swiss. The total prize fund is 27,155 euros with a 5,000 first prize.

2019 Sunway Sitges | Round 7 Standings

Rk. SNo FED Title Name RtgI Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 3 GM Korobov Anton 2668 6,5 30,0 33,5 30,75
2 18 GM Durarbayli Vasif 2609 6,0 26,5 29,5 25,50
3 26 GM Puranik Abhimanyu 2580 6,0 25,5 29,0 24,50
4 9 GM Donchenko Alexander 2644 5,5 28,5 32,0 24,50
5 33 GM Nasuta Grzegorz 2545 5,5 28,5 31,5 24,25
6 1 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2690 5,5 28,5 31,0 24,00
7 25 GM Santos Latasa Jaime 2585 5,5 28,5 31,0 23,75
8 13 GM Narayanan.S.L 2626 5,5 28,0 31,0 21,75
9 8 GM Kovalenko Igor 2647 5,5 27,5 31,5 24,25
10 21 GM Gareyev Timur 2598 5,5 27,5 31,0 23,75
11 27 GM Wagner Dennis 2578 5,5 27,5 30,0 22,75
12 34 GM Erigaisi Arjun 2544 5,5 27,0 30,5 23,75
13 23 GM Liang Awonder 2593 5,5 25,5 28,5 22,00
14 14 GM Heimann Andreas 2617 5,5 25,5 28,5 21,75
15 20 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan 2605 5,5 25,0 28,0 21,50
16 22 GM Svane Rasmus 2597 5,5 24,5 28,0 22,00
17 11 GM Tabatabaei M.Amin 2635 5,0 31,5 34,5 23,25
18 35 GM Li Di 2543 5,0 29,0 31,5 19,75
19 24 GM Praggnanandhaa R 2586 5,0 28,5 32,0 20,00
20 71 IM Parvanyan Ashot 2456 5,0 28,5 31,0 20,75

The tournament is part of a bigger festival with a lot of side events. For example, there are simuls, daily GM lectures, water aerobics, blitz tournaments, foosball, chess documentaries and, last but not least, cooking master classes. There's so much that one cannot even attend everything because some activities overlap each other.

The Korobov master class. Video: Sunway Sitges.

The Ivanchuk master class. Video: Sunway Sitges.

Table tennis Sunway Sitges 2019
Foosball is especially popular among the younger participants... Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.
Blitz tournament Sunway Sitges 2019
... who also like to play blitz as well! Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.
Analyzing room Sunway Sitges 2019
Several Indian players analyzing. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.
Wine tasting Sunway Sitges 2019
The wine-tasting master class. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.
Ivanchuk Moradiabadi lecture Sunway Sitges
Ivanchuk attended Elshan Moradiabadi's lecture on Friday morning... Photo: Peter Doggers/Sunway Sitges.
Ivanchuk Paella workshop Sunway Sitges
... and also attended the paella workshop. Photo: Peter Doggers/Sunway Sitges.
Paella workshop Sunway Sitges
No visit to Spain without paella. Photo: Peter Doggers/Sunway Sitges.

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