Predke and Erigaisi share sixth round lead at Dubai Open Chess Tournament


Indian GM Arjun Erigaisi (left) contemplates a move against GM Rinat Jumabayev of Kazakhstan during their sixth round of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Second-seed GM Arjun Erigaisi of India, who will celebrate his 19th birthday on Saturday, defeated fifth-round leader GM Rinat Jumabayev of Kazakhstan to overtake the latter and grab a share of the lead with 5.5 points in round six of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

The other player with 5.5 points is top-seed GM Alexandr Predke of Russia, who scored another quick win, beating junior standout FM Ayush Sharma of India. Thursday’s results set up a much-awaited clash between the two highest rated players of the tournament in the seventh round.

Erigaisi’s win also coincided with his formal entry into the 2700-rating club, with a rating of 2725 in the September Fide rating list that came out yesterday.

“It feels good,” said Erigaisi of the achievement and added that he will try his best to keep improving.

Against Jumabayev, the Indian said he had prepared a line against the Nimzo-Indian where white goes for an aggressive kingside expansion, although he admitted being out of book when the Kazakh took on d5 and then played a6.

“I didn’t know this, but I liked my position,” Erigaisi said. When white played g4 with the intention of pushing the pawn further to g5, Erigaisi felt Jumabayev reacted correctly with h6.

 “I underestimated h6,” Erigaisi said. Against this, Erigaisi initially thought of continuing with his g4-g5 plan, but realised that black can go Nh7 and then sacrifice the h6 pawn, resulting in a position that was not to his liking.

 So the Indian just kept improving his position until Jumabayev moved his queen to h4, which Erigaisi considered. But it was what Jumabayev played next – an innocent-looking move that developed the queenside bishop to the d7-square – that Erigaisi thought was the fatal mistake.

 “He could have put up a better resistance with something like Ra7. But with what he played, my attack was just very strong,” Erigaisi said.

 Predke once again played another entertaining attacking chess after surprising his teenage opponent with the Cozio variation of the Ruy Lopez, and the Russian, who earlier played the Ruy Lopez main line in rounds two and four as black, felt happy with what he achieved after the opening.

 “I suppose that after 6.c3 d5, black is okay,” Predke said. After white took on d5 and black recaptured with the queen, the position carried a hidden trap, which the young Sharma had fallen for.

 “Actually, Bb3 and Ng5 is a bad idea,” said Predke of Sharma’s attempt to attack black’s poorly defended f7-pawn.

 The young Indian talent took on f7 with his knight, unable to resist the juicy pawn offer that at first glance seemed to create problems for Predke’s uncastled king. But after the calm Rf8, white could not find anything better than to sacrifice the knight for two pawns.

 The Russian then launched a counterattack and won in just 20 moves.

“I’m glad that I won today,” said Predke, who’s now won back-to-back after a draw in the third round. “I will try to win more games and see what happens.”

There are five players with five points at joint second place, including Jumabayev. Also with five points is former Dubai Open champion GM Vladimir Akopian of the US, who played the super-solid Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez and settled for a draw after a long fight against the resurgent third-seed GM Amin Tabatabaei of Iran, whose campaign here has been derailed by two draws against much lower-rated opponents. With his third draw in the tournament, along with two wins, Tabatabaei has 4.5 points.

Three Indian grandmasters complete the five-point group: fourth-seed Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, who bounced back from a loss to Jumabayev in round five by beating GM Shardul Gagare, GM Aravindh Chithambaram, winner over untitled Vaibhav Jayant Raut, and Sahaj Grover, who took down Olympiad bronze medallist GM Raunak Sadhwani.

GM Ahmed Adly of Egypt picked up his second win in a row, beating Filipino IM Oliver Dimakiling to raise his score to 4.5 points. The Moroccan player IM Mohamed Tissir has three points following a draw with India’s Aniruddh Chatterjee, while IM Basheer Al Qudaimi of Yemen, IM Husain Aziz of Qatar and youth player Rami Talab of Syria all got stuck at 2.5 points after losing to Uzbekistan’s Rakhmatullaev Almas, India’s Sanket Chakravarty and FM Sharan Rao of India, respectively. Raji Sayel Abu Azizah of Palestine also has 2.5 points following a draw with Rahman Md. Taibur of Bangladesh.

Among Emirati players, IM Omran Al Hosani leads with 3.5 points after a win over India’s Ishvi Aggarwal. He is followed by Ahmad Al Romaithi, who remains at three points after a loss to GM R.R. Laxman, and Ali Abdulaziz, who has 2.5 points with a win over Jordan’s Kanan Al Namas. IM Saeed Ishaq has two points after beating Dehghan Ibrahim.


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