India’s — and the world’s — largest open tournament is underway. This year’s Delhi Open is spilling out of the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium with over 2,000 players from 29 countries competing in the three categories for a prize fund of ~7.7 million. The marque Section 1 event has ~2.7 million in prizes. Top seed GM Arkady Naiditsch, who now plays for Azerbaijan (he’s represented Germany and Russia earlier), leads a field of 264, with 27 GMs and 24 IMs. There are several Indian hopefuls, such as D Gukesh and Harsha Bharathakoti, who will be seeking GM norms in addition to prizes. Bangladeshi GM Ziaur Rahman leads with a perfect score of 4 from 4 rounds.
The Hastings Chess Tournament, which started in 1895, is always played over the Christmas-New Year period. The first edition was won by the American genius, Harry Nelson Pillsbury, ahead of world champions, Emanuel Lasker, Wilhelm Steinitz and other stars like Siegbert Tarrasch and Mikhail Chigorin. Past winners include Mikhail Botvinnik, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal, Vasily Smyslov , Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov. This edition, the 93rd, was won by Deep Sengupta and Yiping Lou who shared first with 7 points from 9 rounds.
Meanwhile one of the world’s oldest chess festivals, the Wijk Aan Zee Tata Steel kicks off this weekend. The Tata Steel features a big “amateur” Open with plenty of titled players. The Master Section has a field of Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Wesley So, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Anish Giri, et
cetera. Adhiban Baskaran, who shared third place last year, retains a slot in the top Masters section.
The Challengers is led by the top-seeded Vidit Gujrathi, with Dronavalli Harika also getting a spot. The winner of the Challenger automatically qualifies for the next year’s Masters. Players to watch apart from Vidit would be the new world junior champion, Aryan Tari, and the 17-year-old American, Jefffery Xiong.
The DIAGRAM, BLACK TO PLAY (White: Darius Swiercz Vs Black: Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan, Aeroflot 2017), was voted the move of the year. White’s king is undefended and the Nh6, Qb2 are out of play. Black has multiple themes for trying to get at the king. For example, Nxg5, clearing the queen’s diagonal, f3+ pulling out the king and opening up the Bc7, et cetera.
But how does he make it all work?
The talented teenaged GM played the amazing 33.—f6!! [ Now 34. gf6 Kxh6 wins] So 34. ef6 f3+ ! 35. Kg1 [ Now 35. Kxf3? Nxg5+ 36. Bxg5 Qh3# mates] Nxg5! 36. Qa2 Qh3 37. Qg8+ This is a last desperate try. The refutation is 37.— Rxg8 38. Re7+ Kh8 (0-1). Mate can’t be stopped. White was hoping against hope for 38. —Kxh6? 39. Bxg5#