Sunday, September 20, 2015

A day with Bobby Fischer!

Today (19th September) ChessBase India invited all the players of Mumbai to celebrate the day remembering the greatest chess player that ever lived - Bobby Fischer


The plan was the following:
1. Meet at R-city mall Ghatkopar at 9 a.m. for the movie Pawn Sacrifice. The movie begins at 9.15 a.m and the ticket cost is just Rs. 70.

Pawn Sacrifice is a movie based on the life of Bobby Fischer

2. After the movie ends at around 11.30 a.m all of us will go to my place where we will sit in front of the 42 inch television in the living room and see the ChessBase DVD - Master Class on Bobby Fischer.

3. The DVD has four sections by GM Rogozenco on openings, GM Mihail Marin on Strategy, IM Oliver Reeh on tactics and GM Karsten Mueller on Endgames. It lasts four five hours and we will see the entire DVD.

4. In between we will have a small break where you can go downstairs and grab a quick bite!

The above plan was decided just one day prior i.e on 18th September and we created a facebook event in order to organize the entire thing.

Amruta (my wife) and I left for the R-city mall at 8.30 a.m in the morning.

At such an early hour the roads leading to the mall were empty....

....and so was the mall


But ChessBase is everywhere!

The little kids came right on time shunning their sleep to see the great Bobby!

And my father (on the right) being a CA took out time from his hectic September end schedule to watch the movie. Mrs Parul (my aunt) came all the way from South Mumbai to not only watch the movie but to enjoy the company of ten year olds like Piya Saxena (middle).

Soon we were a huge gang of chess enthusiasts ranging from 10-65 years!
From left to right - Jainam Gala, Sanjeev Mishra, Divyanshu Sheth, Devarsh Shah, Malay Thakkar, Hetvi Pethad, Dhairya Ghelani, Dhairya's father, Rahul Ved, Hetvi's mother, Parulben, Piya Saxena and her grandmother. Two organizers sitting below - Amruta Mokal and Sagar Shah 

We had almost two rows to ourselves in the theatre!

The movie was very interesting. Well worth watching for any chess fan. You can find a few inaccuracies in the movie, but in general Toby Maguire has a done a wonderful job of playing the role of Bobby Fischer.
Some of the parents were worried whether to let their children see how paranoid Fischer became due to chess. I think the little ones should see what they have to avoid in future and in any case what you will go back with is Fischer's dedication and determination towards the game of chess and his single minded aim of becoming the World Champion. Let me not spill out the beans any further; just know that I heartily recommend this movie to you.

Mumbaikars with the movie poster


If you can't play like him then pose like him!

Next on the agenda was the ChessBase DVD - Master Class Vol.1 on Bobby Fischer. There were three GMs Rogozenco, Marin and Mueller and one IM Reeh who taught you all about Fischer's style of play.

The DVD has a running time of more than five hours.

After the movie got over around 11.30 a.m everyone had their lunch and came to my place. We all huddled around in the living room and at 1 p.m. started the DVD.

The DVD was broadcasted on the 42 inch television. Everyone was completely engrossed in learning about Fischer's style of play

Complete focus

You are not a true chess player till you have played Ruy Lopez in your life!

Everyone learnt about Fischer's treatment of the Ruy Lopez, his affection for the light squared bishop, always playing the Bc4 move in the Sicilian, sac-sac-mate on the h-file in the dragon, Fischer's favourite Najdorf, King's Indian and Benoni.
It's a wonderful DVD which teaches you a lot about this great chess player's career and style of play.

We also solved 14 tactical positions from Fischer's games. There was the Game of the Century against Donald Byrne, and also the Rf6!! blockade against Benko and not to forget Reshevsky's king drag with Bxf7 followed by Ne6! But there was one combination which I loved the most and I present it to you over here:

Variation from Fischer-Gligoric 1966

White to play and win.
Write down your answers in the comments section below.

Many of us worked on this DVD till 6 p.m. in the evening. Even though we couldn't finish it entirely, everyone went back home with a feeling of having learnt about not only Fischer but also the game of chess. It was truly a memorable day and one which I will cherish for days to come.
25 chess players from different places of Mumbai came together to enjoy the game of chess - that's the power of Bobby Fischer! 

We will be able to relive this wonderful day even after many years thanks to the pictures taken by Amruta Mokal

Here is what some of the participants of the event had to say:

Shubham Kumtekar
Honestly, it was fun! A lot of people from Mumbai's chess community coming together to watch the movie and then, indulging in a training session of sorts - what more could you ask from a day! Indeed, a day well spent remembering the great Bobby smile emoticon
Thanks a lot Sagar and Amruta for organizing this excellent event!

Sanjeev Mishra
I agree with Shubham. U don't get a training session with an IM everyday. Movie was good but the dvd was even better.. Learnt a lot.

Jainam Gala
The movie was great and so are Fischer's brilliancies. A day full of chess to honour him. #19thSeptsmile emoticon

Ketan Patil
The movie is awesome. I used to think that 5-6 hours of chess everyday is more than enough. But after seeing Fischer's dedication, 5-6 hours seemed nothing.It really inspires us to work more harder on chess. I think you Sagar Shah were correct in saying that if someone wants to be like Fischer, he needs to be a chess fanatic like Fischer. The dvd class after the movie helped us to understand Fischer in more depth. It was like a cherry on cake. Thanks a lot man. Keep it up.

Tejas Jayade
I honestly loved the event.. Thank you Sagar sir for taking this initiative.
Many tips, many ideas, a movie, a dvd session and one game.! All in all, a perfect #chessyday.

ChessBase India website is coming soon.
Till then get all the updates from it's facebook page.

Friday, September 18, 2015

19 September - Let's remember Bobby FIscher

Robert James Fischer also known as Bobby Fischer, the 11th World Champion, was one of the most brilliant minds to ever play the game of chess. It was Bobby who popularized the game of chess thanks to the match of the century - his 1972 World Championship Match with Boris Spassky.
No matter how Fischer was off the chess board, no one can deny his pure genius on it. And as a chess player I think we should all revere the chess player in Bobby Fischer. It is with this intention that I have decided to keep the 19th of Septemeber as the Bobby Fischer Day!



19 September - Bobby Fischer day: What are the plans?

The movie Pawn sacrifice was released on the 18th of September in India. This movie which is directed by Edward Zwick and written by Stephen knight recounts the life of Bobby Fischer, his role played by the famous Toby Maguire.
The movie is set during the cold war period where Bobby Fischer, a lone American, challenges the mighty Soviet chess empire and defeats it!

On 19th of September, that is tomorrow, we will all meet at the R-city mall in Mumbai to watch this movie. The timing is 9.15 a.m. in the morning and the ticket cost is just Rs.70.

Just in case you have a double mind about watching the movie, this trailer will help clear that:


You can check out the review to this movie by one of the greatest economists ever Ken Rogoff on the ChessBase website.

The theatre where we will be seeing this movie is in one of the biggest malls of Mumbai, R-city mall in Ghatkopar (west). 


The google map will help you to locate the exact address of the mall

The movie lasts for two hours. After it ends around 11.30 am, we all take an auto-rickshaw and reach my place and sit in my living room. And what are we doing at my place?
Together we will watch the Master Class Volume one, a ChessBase DVD on Bobby Fischer.


The DVD has four sections:
The opening section by GM Dorian Rogozenco....



Fischer's strategic thinking by GM Mihail Marin....

Fischer Tactics by Oliver Reeh...

And endgames by none other than by GM Karsten Mueller.

It will be a marathon five hour viewing session (with a break in between for lunch where you can go downstairs and grab something to eat). If you have some urgent matters to attend to you can of course leave in between. But just imagine if you sit right till the end how much will you learn about the great Bobby Fischer and also the game of chess!

Cost: The cost for you involves coming to the movie theatre, buying the movie tickets, from the theatre to my house (which is around 50 Rs. and divided by three people!), lunch and going back home. There will be no fees for learning from the ChessBase DVD! 

Note: It is very possible for you to just watch the movie, meet us and then not attend the GM lecture on Bobby Fischer.

So all those who are interested, I will see you guys at the R-city movie theatre at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning! We will have a great chess filled day together. 
If you wish you can confirm your participation in this event by joining this event on facebook.

This event is organized by IM Sagar Shah, WIM elect Amruta Mokal and ChessBase India.

Do like our facebook page for more updates. The website www.chessbase.in will be coming up pretty soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Python Strategy - A book review

Chess, these days, has become quite mechanical. If you want to work on an opening, switch on Komodo 9 or Houdini 4 and start preparing with a 3200 rated assistant. If you have played a tournament game and want to analyze your mistakes, the same silicon monster will come to your assistance. Though extremely useful and almost indispensable, it was this very engine that had started to give me a nauseatic feeling whenever I sat down to work on chess. The computers gave me the correct answers all the time, but they made me lazy and the solutions were often just too difficult for my mind to assimilate and master. Even the books that I would try to pick up to read had variations checked through a computer. Perfection was what all the authors were aiming for, but this very search for flawlessness had made the game of chess quite boring, dull and drab for me. So in June 2015, when Quality Chess published the English version of Tigran Petrosian's best games with annotations by the ninth World Champion himself (atleast half of the games) I immediately realised that this could well be the panacea that I was looking for.

Python Strategy is the republication of the Russian book "Strategy of Soundness" written more than thirty years ago. Petrosian couldn't finish the book due to his ill health but he had already annotated a significant amount of games which form the basis of this book. A few other games have been annotated by top grandmasters and close friends like Isaak Boleslavsky, Igor Zaitsev and others.



The ninth World Champion, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, was one of the greatest positional players ever to have played the game of chess. (Picture source)

What is it about the book that I loved so much? The annotations by Petrosian were usually done immediately after his game had ended for magazines or newspapers. This meant that his annotations were mainly word based with the inclusion of deep variations only when required. Such kind of annotations may not be perfect (like computer analysis) but they teach you a lot about the game. It's like getting to peek into the mind of a great player. Let me illustrate this with the first encounter in the book, a game that was played in 1945 when Petrosian was just 16 years old.

Tigran Petrosian vs Nikolay Sorokin
White to move. What would you play?

Let's see what Petrosian has to say about this position. More than the move it's his comments that made a deep impression. 
Petrosian's explanation: "Now the plan of b2-b4 and Na4 is not all that dangerous to Black, since his own knight will land on c4. Nonetheless Black's scheme has a major defect: he has "shelved" the task of developing his kingside pieces and castling. At that time I had already mastered one of the important laws of chess strategy: if one side has fallen behind in development the game must be opened up to punish the offender."

With this insightful explanation Petrosian played 12.e4! intending to meet 12...Qxb2 with 13.Bd2 with dangerous threats. In this book, Karsten Mueller has presented the last chapter which consists of around 10 pages and entitled "Under the Microscope of the Computer." He analyzes a few of the games from the book using the engine and showing where Petrosian missed some of the moves like in the position above after 12.e4! Qxb2, a strong move would be 13.Nxd5! exd5 14.exd5 when the black king is stuck in the center and the queen is not to safe on b2. While this analysis showing the truth is important, I think it's Petrosian's comments which are more important to be assimilated. Take for example one more position from the next year-1946.

Vladimir Dunaev-Tigran Petrosian
It's Black to play here. What would you play -12...Rc8 or Rb8 ?

In the game Petrosian played 12..Rc8 but he condemned the move with the following words.
Petrosian's explanation: "If Black had foreseen the following events, he woud have played 12...Rb8! White cannot do without advancing his g-pawn (g2-g4), and in consequence Black will have to play ...Nc5, freeing d7 for the other knight. To meet the attack on the e4-pawn, and with the assurance that d6-d5 will not be playable, it is highly likely that White will exchange on c5, leading to the closure of c-file. This analysis would have prompted Black to ensure that his rook was "in the right place" (Rb8), not formally but in substance."

What a joy it would be to see the greatest attacker Mikhail Tal (left) and the greatest positional player Tigran Petrosian (right) analyzing the same position (picture source)

I could go on and on about the beautiful explanations that Petrosian has given in this book but then the review becomes too long and no one buys the book!

One thing that made me relate to Petrosian quite instantly was that the fact that he developed his game through hardwork. In the introduction Nikolay Tarasov wrote, "It is said that the genius Capablanca learnt to play chess by watching others play. Petrosian was not able to do this. He looked at the chessboard for hours, but the laws of this game remained incomprehensible to him."
Being a person who learnt the rules of castling and en passant after many days of playing, this felt good to read!

Another story which really touched me was the follwing, "Tomorrow, for the last time, they (Tigran and his brother Amayak) are going to get up at four in the morning, shivering from the cold; they are going to open the door cautiously and then run to the grocery store on the corner. There will be plenty of people there already. But the boys have no need to be first. Everyone huddling in the street at this early hour, in front of the closed doors of the shop, thinks that this is a queue for meat. But for Tigran and Amayak it is a queue for.... a chess set! At seven in the morning they will sell their "turn" in the queue to grown-up stange women for two roubles, and in their secret chidren's money-box the necessary sum will finaly come together to realize their long standing dream of taking taking the 31 roubles to the sports shop and buy a chess set - a large genuine set with wooden board and heavy lathe-turned pieces."
What passion for the game!

It was exactly this passion that led Petrosian to study his first chess book - Nimzowitsch's Chess Praxis again and again for three to four times, get back to the chess board within a few days of his father's death, practice chess for hours in spite of the work and responsibility on his shoulders since the age of fifteen and it was exactly this passion that made him a World Champion in 1963 which he retained for six years!

The 1963 match between Petrosian (left) and Botvinnik (right) ended in a win for the former with a score of 12.5-9.5. You can find 27 seconds of video footage of the 1963 match on Youtube.
(picture from armchess.am)

Contribution to Opening theory

It was said that Petrosian fed his family because of the King's Indian Defence! Not because he was a big expert in it from the black side but because he almost always crushed it with the white pieces. One of his favourite systems has his name engraved on it in opening books.

The usual way in the Classical Variation of the King's Indian is to 7.0-0 but Petrosian would almost always push his pawn 7.d4-d5 and later follow up with Bg5! These games in the King's Indian show you how good his positional understanding was. This variation came to be known as the Petrosian system.

This little rook pawn move is something that Petrosian liked against the Queen's Indian and was later on used extensively by Garry Kasparov. Nowadays we call it the Petrosian-Kasparov system

There are many more opening systems that have developed thanks to the efforts of Petrosian but I would like to draw your attention to how this book can help you to build your understanding in the first phase of the game.
The Torre Attack which is played with 1.d4 2.Nf3 and 3.Bg5 was one of the favourite systems of Petrosian with white. Here is one position that was reached out of that opening.

Tigran Petrosian vs Victor Liublinsky
What would you play as White?

Petrosian's explanation: "An exchange of bishops would be wholly senseless. The pawn on e5 is cramping Black's position - and any exchange, reducing the quantity of pieces on the board, would alleviate his lot. After all, the fewer pieces there are, the less space is needed for manoeuvring. Apart from that, after 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.f4 or 11.Nf3, Black could start an immediate attack against White's pawn wedge with 11...f6. Hence White must play 10.Bf4!
Now if 10 .. .f6, the reply 11.Qh5 is most unpleasant for Black. It forces 11...f5, as 11...g6 would be met by the obvious sacrifice 12.Bxg6 hxg6 13.Qxg6+ Kh8 14.h4. White's threats are then scarcely to be fended off- for instance, 14...fxe5 15.Qh5+ Kg8 16.Bh6 Rf6 17.Rh3!"

After this paragraph we understand how important it is to conserve the bishop on f4. Look at the balance of words + variations in the annotations.
After seeing the above example, let us fast forward a few years to 1966 when Petrosian is defending his title against Boris Spassky.

Petrosian and Spassky played two matches against each other in 1966 and 1969. In 1966 Petrosian was successful in defending his title with a score of  12.5-11.5 and in 1969 Spassky won with 12.5-10.5. (picture from www.worldchesshof.com)

In the seventh game surprisingly Spassky employed the Torre Attack with the white pieces. After 11 moves we reach the following position:

Boris Spassky vs Tigran Petrosian
Black to play

Petrosian's explanation: "White is following a familiar path. The pawn is transferred to e5, and the dark-squared bishop is retained for the coming fight. But there is one very big "but". Black has not yet castled, and this, at bottom, denies White any prospects for using his e5-pawn as an active instrument. On the contrary, White's advanced post becomes an object of attack. However much the commentators might have raged afterwards, it would have been more sensible to steer the game into a placid channel by exchanging bishops on e7, following with f2-f4, and renouncing ambitious plans."
Petrosian played 11...Qc7 and later 0-0-0.
Where on earth would you get such pearls of wisdom?

Petrosian was quite well known for his positional exchange sacrifice. These examples are pretty well known and I would direct you to the beautifully written book called Learn from Legends by Mihail Marin also from Quality Chess. There is an entire chapter on Petrosian's exchange sacrifices with in-depth analysis. Of course, these games do exist in this book also but I very much liked some of the more subtle positional decisions made by Petrosian. For example his game against Anatoly Bannik from 1958.

Tigran Petrosian- Anatoly Bannik
How should White increase his advantage?

White is clearly better here thanks to the passive bishop on e7 which is inhibited by its own pawns on e5, f6 and g5. A very natural continuation is 1.Bxb6 axb6 2.g4. This would secure the knight on e4 and would give White a small edge. But Petrosian goes for 1.Bc5!! 
Petrosian's Explanation: "In deciding on this move, it was imperative to weigh all the "pros" and "cons" thoroughly. The move looks illogical as White is voluntarily exchangin his "good" bishop for his opponent's "bad" one, instead of swapping bishop for knight (18.Bxb6+) and securing his preponderance. However, if you probe into the position a little more deeper, it becomes obvious that after a possibe exchange of rooks on the d-file and the transfer of king to e6, Black would cover his vulnerable points and create an impregnable formation. The role played in this by the "bad" bishop would be of no small importance."
After 1.Bc5!! Rxd1 2.Rxd1 Bxc5 3.Nxc5 White was threatening infiltration on e6 and after 3...Re8 4.Ne4 Re6 5.g4! He was clearly better as the f6 pawn is very weak.

There are such positional themes littered all over the book. An alert and discerning eye will quickly learn from them and add it to his positional arsenal.
Apart from this there are also a few interviews of Petrosian which have been compiled. The clarity of his answers makes it a very enjoyable read. An interviewer asked Petrosian "Who was your teacher?"
Petrosian replied, "My teacher number one was life itself. Teacher number two was the now deceased master Archil Ebralidze , who taught chess in the Tbilisi Pioneer's Palace. Then came Capablanca, Nimzowitsch.... and after that it was a case of 'caling at all stations,' as they say; I learnt from everyone I happened to encounter at the chessboard and I did a lot of reading."

The Candidates final between Petrosian and Fischer in 1971 was won by the American by a margin of 6.5-2.5. While this might seem a huge margin, the match was very interesting with some closely fought games.

A year before their Candidates match Fischer and Petrosian played each other in the Match of the Century in Belgrade. Petrosian lost the match 3:1. A wonderful gesture by Petrosian was annotating game two of the match in great detail. It is rare to see a lost game being added to one's collection of games.

What is the best way to study this book? Of course you can open the book and start reading and playing over the analysis. But for maximum benefit I suggest the following approach:
1. Open the game in the book that you want to study and check the names of the players.
2. Search the game in Mega Database and open the game in training mode in ChessBase.
3. Set up a chess board, take the side of Tigran Petrosian, and guess his every move. In this way you are in the shoes of the champion. If your decision is different from Petrosian's try to understand the reason for it. It could be possible that you came up with a better solution.
4. After you have seen through the entire game check the analysis from the book. It might be possible that some of your doubts are cleared. If they are not then discuss with your friends or coach and finally if there is no one, switch on your 3200 Elo assistant!

The above way of working with the book will take quite some time for studying each and every game but at the end you will not easily forget the games and ideas that you have learnt for many many years.

Conclusion: Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian used to hardly lose his games. Thanks to his sense of danger and prophylactic play he could avert the problems much before they would arise. It was for this reason that people started calling him the "Iron Tigran." Lev Polugaevsky famousy quoted, "In those years, it was easier to win the Soviet Championship than a game against 'Iron Tigran'."

This book helps you to not only know about one of the greatest legends of the game but in doing so you will unknowing experience a sudden rise in your positional understanding. Don't ask me how it happened! Those are just Petrosian's blessings for studying his games carefully!

I heartily recommend it.
You can buy a copy of Petrosian's Python Strategy from the official website for 25 euros.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

World Cup 2015: Round 2.1 Hari vs Sethu

As Harikrishna and Sethuraman sat down against each other in the Grand Ballroom of Fairmont Hotel, they must have felt quite wierd. There were 62 more players from different countries in that same playing hall but fate had paired the only two remaining Indians in the competition against each other.
World No. 18 Harikrishna vs reigning National Champion Sethuraman

But such is the life of a chess player - sometimes he has to forget about the guy sitting opposite him and just focus on the 64 squares and 32 pieces in front of him. He has to fight irrespective of who is opponent is. And fight is what these two warriors did.
74 moves of high quality chess which ended in a truce.
The game started as a Guico Piano opening. One of the old and romantic openings employed by the great masters of the past. It was not one of those sharp lines but the subtle positional struggle with moves like d3, c3, Bb3-c2, Nd2-f1-g3 etc. Just the kind of play Harikrishna revels in. But good players never let their opponents settle into a rhythm and that is exactly what Sethuraman did by breaking in the center with d5. He accelerated the pace of the game and even sacrificed his h6 pawn in return for some excellently posted pieces and a strong center. The activity was just enough for Sethuraman to compensate for his material deficit.
Cool and composed at the start of the game
This was one of those typical positions where the side who is a pawn down has to constantly keep introducing new ideas and plans in the position in order to prevent the opponent from consolidating his material advantage. It's like a dying fire that has to be constantly fed with wood to keep it going. Sethu did that for quite some moves but soon the dynamism in his position started to die out. With subtle and restrained play, Harikrishna was able to put a lot of pressure on his young opponent. It was at this point that the Chennai lad made the pragmatic decision of giving up all his ambitions and steering the game into a rook + opposite coloured bishop endgame position.
Samuel and Harikrishna at the start of round two
As we all know, the opposite coloured bishops are known for their high drawish tendencies. And that is exactly what happened. Sethuraman who was a pawn down built a fortress and Harikrishna just couldn't breach it.
After a marathon struggle of 74 moves, the players agreed to a draw. Definitely, it was a tough game for Sethu as he had the thankless task of defending an inferior position against a technical expert like Hari.
But the reward for this determined defence for Sethuraman is having the white pieces in tomorrow's second game of the match. Everyone who knows of Sethuraman's style of play knows that he can be an extremely dangerous theoretician who comes extremely well prepared to his games.
Hari needs to be careful of this and if he is able to side step the opening mines in the game tomorrow, we might well see him pressurizing his younger opponent for a second game in a row.


As of now the match is well poised. Hari's higher rating is set off by Sethuraman having the white pieces. Who will come out on top? Your guess is as good as mine!
Tune in to the game tomorrow at 15.30 hours IST. You can watch the live game over here: http://www.bakuworldcup2015.com/content/5

Do like the ChessBase India page for regular and timely updates on World Cup 2015!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

World Cup 2015: Round 1 tie-breaks

When Mateusz Bartel from Poland held out his hand in the form of resignation to Gabriel Sargissian from Armenia, I realized how hard one has to work in order to just move to the second round of the World Cup. 
The only game in round one to go right up to the Armageddon: Bartel (right) vs Sargissian (left)

These guys first drew two classical games of with normal time control. Today they played two games of 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment which ended in draws. Then two games of 10 minutes plus 10 seconds increment which also ended in draws. The players traded blows with each other in the blitz of 5 minutes + 3 seconds increment and finally at 9pm in the night after almost 5.30 hrs of playing, they reached the Armageddon where the game ended in a draw and the player with white pieces, Bartel, lost as in the armageddon the onus is on the white player to win.
The Sargissian family glued to their seats watching Gabriel play an intense match (picture posted by Lianna Sargissian, Gabriel's wife on facebook and taken by her permission)
For me it was not only a show of chess skills but also of stamina. Without immense energy how else would you be able to sustain for so long. And then there was patience. To remain objective and play as per the demands of the position and not according to the whims of your mind. To wait for the right moment to take your chance. To duck down and suffer when you are worse and hit back when the opportunity presented itself. And finally the presence of mind- to play accurate chess with just seconds on your clock. If you possessed all these qualities you are good to go to the next round of the World Cup 2015. That's how tough it is out there.
Sometimes you play for nearly six hours and go back with absolutely nothing
For Indian fans, this was exactly what our players lacked today. Adhiban who faced Fedoseev lost with a score of 1.5-0.5 and Vidit who was up against Bruzon Batista went down 2-0. It was not that both of them didn't have their chances. Adhiban was clearly better at some point in game one and so was Vidit. But both of them could not rise to the occasion as Adhiban blundered big time with 19...Bxa3 and Vidit in a perfectly balanced position shut the door on his own king and was mated in one move. There were some broadcast issues which showed that Vidit had checkmated his opponent but later on when things were fixed quite tragically we realized that it was the Cuban who had won.
Little did Bruzon know at the start of his game that his opponent would blunder into a mate in one!
How do you come out of such a mental blackout when the next game is about to begin in just five minutes! But still credit should be given to both of them as they fought with great vigour and energy. Adhiban threw caution to the wind and 0-0-0 in a sharp line of the Queen's Indian and Vidit went all out for a kingside attack in a colle-zukertort system. Once again both had their chances but the pressure of rejecting equal lines got to them. They tried too hard. Adhiban made a draw in a clearly worse position, most probably his opponent offered it as he could advance to the next round. Vidit's game was completely crazy and impossible to calculate. Bruzon showed better nerves and caught the white king in an encounter, with his queen and bishops, that took place in the centre of the board.
Adhiban tried hard but couldn't deliver the goods
So after three days of World Cup 2015, four out of the six Indians have to pack their bags and go back home. Surya, Lalith, Vidit and Adhiban. But they all fought their hardest and none of them are going back without putting something on the score-board. The men to now watch out for are Harikrishna and Sethuraman. As previously mentioned they both are facing off each other in the second round.
Other notable results were Boris Gelfand bowing out to the little known Cristopher Henriquez Villagra from Chile and former World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov losing to Anton Kovalyov. The world cup promises to be even bloodier and brutal as the rounds progress!
Gelfand's defeat to Henriquez Villagra has been the biggest upset of World Cup 2015
The second round action begins tomorrow on the 14th of September at 15.30 hours IST. Be sure not to miss it. You can watch the live games on this link: http://www.bakuworldcup2015.com/content/5
Pictures from the official website

World Cup Round 1.2. Hari and Sethu through

Two Indian players are in terrific form in Baku - one is Pentala Harikrishna who won the first game against Max Illingworth and was in no danger in game two. In fact he was just better throughout but couldn't really breakthrough. But it doesn't really matter because he has qualified to round two with a 1.5-0.5 victory.
Harikrishna's 1.5-0.5 victory takes him to he second round of the World Cup

Here are Hari's thoughts on his round one battle:
"Max played well. First game was unclear had he not played Nd4. After his mistake, his position was tough. Second game was interesting. I thought I had an advantage. He defended well and it ended in a draw. I am satisfied with my both games and have played decently in both the games. My next opponent won against Sjugirov 2-0. I am looking forward to my second round battle against Sethuraman." 

The other Indian who played some fantastic chess was Sethuraman! A 2-0 demolition of a 2664 opponent - Sanan Sjugirov. After winning a clean game yesterday, Sethu not only required just half a point but also had the white pieces. After getting a small edge from the opening a pragmatic player would have made sure to play as solidly as possible. But for a young and ambitious guy like Sethu it seemed playing best possible chess was more important than mere "qualification". The move d5-d6! was surely a double edged idea. On one hand it gave White loads of space but on the other the pawn was now weak and isolated. But the Indian player had seen that it was not just the pawn on d6 but the square it cleared on d5 which was very important. He used this square to great effect. Sanan was definitely off colour as he made one mistake after another to give Sethuraman a 2-0 victory! Beating an opponent rated higher than you in such a fashion is an ominous sign for Sethuraman's future opponents.
After the first round we contacted Sethu to know his views and this is what he had to say:

"The first game was crucial .My opponent went for a risky line in Berlin for both sides which is very unusual for an opening like Berlin. I was well prepared and aware of the recent game between Topalov-Caruana in Saint Lious 2015. Qd1 was played instead Qe3 which he played in game which was a serious mistake.

Sanan's Qb3-e3 was a serious mistake according to Sethuraman

I gained the initiative and had more than 45 mins difference in my clock. Yet, I didn't expect that it will end up in 23 moves.
In game two, although draw was at the back of my mind, I didn't want to play passively. It's generally a bad idea when you play for a draw. I played normally like I do usually, meeting the demands of the position." 

This leads to some good as well as bad news for Indian fans. The bad news is that Harikrishna and Sethuraman will face each other in round two of the World Cup. So one of them will be eliminated. But the good, or should I say "not so bad" news, is that one of them will advance to the third round.
Sethuraman said after his game, "It's unfortunate that we Indians have to face against each other in Round two but I am eagerly looking forward to the match after the rest day."
Speaking about bad news - two Indians had to pack their bags as their brief sojourn came to an end in Baku. One of them was Lalith Babu who lost with the Black pieces to Wojtaszek and the match by 1.5-0.5 margin. It was sad because Lalith was able to equalize in the opening (Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2 variation) without any real problems. His bishop on a4 was doing a great job of controlling the d1 square so that a white rook would not be able to make use of that square. The moment Lalith moved it away, the white rooks doubled on the d-file put immense pressure on d6 and the Indian had to part away with this pawn. The rest was still not very easy but you can bank on a 2741 player to convert the position which he did without many problems.
Wojtaszek with white pieces was too much for Lalith to handle (picture by Susan Polgar)
On the other hand, Surya Shekhar Ganguly had lost his first game against Artemiev with the black pieces. Having the white pieces in game two he began with 1.e4 and a Najdorf was just what the doctor ordered for the Indian player. More the complications, more the chances to win! But it seemed like the 17-year-old Artemiev had absolutely no pressure of the one point lead. He played some excellent chess and Ganguly was soon in a completely lost position. Nearing the 40th move, Black only had to play Ka7 and Ganguly would have had to throw in the towel but he went Kc8 and the Kolkata GM was able to make a draw. But it didn't help him much as he was eliminated from the World Cup due to a 0.5-1.5 deficit.
The round back home is always longer! Two of Anand's former seconds
The only positive thing for Ganguly and Lalith is that they go back home with US $4800 (net of tax).
The most interesting part: Two Indians are in the rapid and blitz tie-breaks as their matches ended in a 1-1 draw. They are B.Adhiban and Vidit Gujrathi.
After being the first guy to finish the game yesterday, Adhiban got in the groove today with an extremely solid draw with Fedoseev with the black pieces. At no point in the game was he worse and it was the Russian who had to force the draw.
No one could break through the other's defences (picture by Susan Polgar)
As for Vidit, it seemed as if he didn't really want to make use of his white pieces as he agreed to a draw in just 15 moves in the Catalan. Was it a part of his strategy or was he simply unhappy with his opening position? 
Time for Vidit to get his act together
Whatever it is, we are in the tie-breaks tomorrow. What is the format? 
First the players will play a two game match of 25 minute plus 10 second incremement. If that ends in a draw then another two game rapid match of 10 minutes plus 10 second increment. If that too is level then a blitz match of two games of 5 minutes + 3 seconds increment. And finally, if we do not have a winner yet then an armageddon with white having five minutes, black four (with incremement of three secs after 60 moves) and a draw would mean white is eliminated.
These rapid and blitz tie-breaks are filled with enormous tension and pressure. But Adhiban is not new to this experience. In 2013 World Cup he played 8 games against his first round opponent Alekseev to emerge 5-3 up in this marathon struggle! Hence, I would give an edge to Adhiban in tomorrow's tie-breaks.

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An 8-game marathon struggle in 2013 World Cup against Alekseev ended in 5-3 victory for Adhiban
As for Vidit, it is his first outing. But the speed and accuracy with which he calculates, I am sure that he has excellent chances against his not so young (33-year-old) Cuban opponent.
The chess fans are in for a treat tomorrow. Do not forget to tune in to the live broadcast at 15.30 hours IST.
You can catch all the live action over here:
http://www.bakuworldcup2015.com/content/5

Nearly all the top seeds have progressed to round two. A few of the casualties were GM Gata Kamsky who lost to Hrant Melkumyan and GM Ni Hua who was beaten by Mareco Sandro. Teimour Radjabov goes into the tie-breaks against the young Sevian and so does the experienced Gelfand against Cristobal Henriquez Villagra (2511).
Gelfand going into the tie-breaks is surprising because in game one.....

....where he was white he took a draw in this position where he has an advantage of nearly three points! Just the simple Rc1 would win as the knight cannot move due to the threat of Ba3.