Nihal Sarin ties for first
The $100,000 MPL Indian Chess Tour is a series of four 16-player all-play-all tournaments where the winners, and the top four by Tour standings, qualify for an 8-player knockout final. The winner of each event also gets a place on the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The players have 15 minutes for all their moves, plus a 10-second increment starting from move one. There are 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw. Official website.
After an incredibly strong performance on day 3 of the competition — when he won all four of his games — Aravindh Chithambaram grabbed the lead in the second leg of the online tour. Two more wins and a draw on Sunday granted the 22-year-old tournament victory, as he had a better tiebreaker than Nihal Sarin, who also finished with 32/42 points.
While Nihal remained undefeated, it was Aravindh who scored ten wins, one more than his younger compatriot. Aravindh actually scored 11 wins, but Gukesh’s withdrawal — due to internet-connection difficulties — nullified that victory. GM Harsha Bharathakoti and FM Aradhya Garg were the only two players who managed to beat the eventual winner.
This win earned Aravindh a spot in the next event of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. He also qualified for the eight-player tour finals, which will take place in November.
Leon Luke Mendonca and Raunak Sadhwani scored 26/45 each to finish in third and fourth places respectively.
In round 13, Aravindh scored his fifth straight win (out of six!) by beating Leon Mondanca with the white pieces.
There are always two approaches to any position: you either let your opponent do the things he/she wants or take charge and do the things you want. In short, take control. Aravindh did exactly that with 28.Nexf3!, a classy move.
The game continued 28…exf3 29.Rxe7 Bxe7 30.Ne6 Qd6 31.Nxf8 Nxf8 32.Bf5 Qf6 33.Qxf3
White gave up two minor pieces for a rook, but he also got three extra pawns. Furthermore, the black bishops are unable to unleash their true potential in this position. Aravindh went on to win the game comfortably.
Live stream – Day 4
Commentary by GM Srinath Narayanan and IM Tania Sachdev