Sethuraman Surprises At Asian Continental

Sethuraman Surprises At Asian Continental

| 6 | Chess Event Coverage

S.P. Sethuraman of India emerged as the winner of the 2016 Asian Continental Chess Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. His compatriot Kulkarni Bhakti won the women's section.

Photos courtesy Uzbek Chess Federation.

The 2016 Asian Continental Championships (Open and Women) took place 26 May-3 June at the Uzbekistan Hotel in Tashkent. It was a 9-round Swiss (with no rest day); the time control was 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game and 30 seconds increment per move.

At stake was a $75,000 prize fund (with a $11,000 first prize) and also five spots for the 2017 World Cup. The winner of the women's section would qualify for the (knockout) Women's World Championship.

Le Quang Liem (2718) of Vietnam and Wei Yi (2694) of China were the two top favorites in this tournament, together with local hero Rustam Kasimdzhanov (2703). The first two names were among the players that started with 3.0/3 (together with Wen Yang of China and Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran). The latter was held to a draw in round two but joined the leaders after round four, when not a single player had managed to keep a perfect score.

Can you see how Kasim's opponent in round two responded to the dangerously looking 24.e5 move?

Former FIDE World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

The second round saw an even bigger upset as Indian GM Adhiban Baskaran lost to a young, local IM named Temur Igonin. It's tough these days when you're paired against someone born in the 21st century but already rated 2474! At some point the grandmaster avoided a move repetition but the endgame remained extremely complicated, and he had to resign when he was about to be checkmated.

Adhiban, who won the Tata Steel Challengers this year and tied for first at the recent Hasselbacken Open, would eventually fail to directly qualify for the World Cup; he finished in 11th place with 6.0/9.

Top seed Le Quang Liem won a nice game in round three against Murtas Kazhgaleyev, the grandmaster from Kazakhstan who lives in France. Which move was played by the white player?

Half-way the tournament we could see the effect of a tournament where a) there are no anti-draw rules and b) it's all about the top five spots. For example in round five the top four (!) boards saw quick draws, with only 14, 12 and 15 moves played on boards 2-4 respectively.

S.P. Sethuraman joined the big group of leaders in that round with a win against one of his many compatriots in this tournament, Sengupta Deep. He won an exchange in a way you don't see every day.

The next day the eventual winner lost in a Berlin Endgame against Le, who drew his game with Wei Yi in round seven in what was the top clash of the event.

Not surprisingly these two players were the ones in shared first place after eight rounds. On his 17th birthday Wei Yi defeated that other pre-tournament favorite Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who was doing alright until he failed to see a tactical line that ended with perfect harmony.

China's young star Wei Yi.

But, who would have thought, both leaders lost in the final round, and both with the white pieces! Le Quang Liem went down against second Surya Ganguly, who play the Semi-Slav like his former boss Vishy Anand likes to. One inaccuracy by Le was enough to get under pressure, and although it took 77 moves, Ganguly was always in control. A very instructive game.

An excellent game by Ganguly.

On top board, Wei Yi went for the sharp 7.g4 in the Semi-Slav, once popularized by strong Latvian-born GMs like Alexander Shabalov and Alexei Shirov. The Chinese talent spent an enormous amount of time in the opening for his kingside attack, but couldn't make it work and eventually ended up a piece down for two pawns - not enough to save the game. 

The start of Wei Yi vs Sethuraman.

Sethuraman was the only player to score 7.5/11 and so he won the $11,000 first prize. For the others, cash prizes for tied players were divided according to the Hort system, a very fair way of distributing money that should be used more often. Invented by the famous Czech grandmaster Vlastimil Hort, this system gives 50 percent of the prize that belongs to his place in the standings; the other 50 percent of all players tied is divided equally.

Asian Continental Championship | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 9 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2647 7 0 6 2551
2 1 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2718 6,5 0 5 2605
3 3 GM Wei Yi CHN 2694 6,5 0 5 2595
4 14 GM Kazhgaleyev Murtas KAZ 2582 6,5 0 5 2514
5 20 GM Sengupta Deep IND 2543 6,5 0 5 2438
6 12 GM Lu Shanglei CHN 2614 6,5 0 5 2428
7 10 GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2636 6,5 0 5 2424
8 7 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2654 6,5 0 4 2550
9 26 GM Batchuluun Tsegmed MGL 2489 6,5 0 4 2401
10 16 GM Vakhidov Jahongir UZB 2578 6 0 5 2516
11 5 GM Adhiban B. IND 2665 6 0 5 2463
12 49 FM Begmuratov Alisher UZB 2371 6 0 5 2421
13 19 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan IRI 2551 6 0 3 2599
14 54 FM Hafiz Arif Abdul INA 2348 5,5 0 5 2437
15 24 GM Karthikeyan Murali IND 2518 5,5 0 5 2384
16 53 Fang Yan CHN 2354 5,5 0 4 2541
17 6 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2658 5,5 0 4 2511
18 22 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. IND 2528 5,5 0 4 2507
19 32 GM Kostenko Petr KAZ 2457 5,5 0 4 2492
20 37 IM Tin Jingyao SIN 2427 5,5 0 4 2463

(Full final standings here.)

2, 1, 3: Le Quang Liem, S.P. Sethuraman, and Wei Yi.

The women's tournament was won by Kulkarni Bhakti of India. Afterward the same players participated in the Asian Individual Blitz Championship. This tournament was won by Chinese GM Lu Shanglei, who finished half a point ahead of Le Quang Liem, Lalu Babu and Wen Yang

You might remember Lu's name from the 2014 World Blitz Championship in Dubai, where amongst others he beat the eventual winner Magnus Carlsen.

Lu Shanglei in 2014 in Dubai.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

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