IIFLW Juniors, Round 1-5: Aaryan Varshney, Nikhil Magizhnan in lead

 

The 3rd edition of IIFL Wealth Mumbai International Junior Chess Tournament by EKA by IIFL IM is in progress at the Mount Litera School International in Bandra, Mumbai. A total of 276 players from 10 different countries have participated in this grand event, which boasts a total prize money of Rs. 8 Lac and a first prize of Rs. 1.5 lac, making it the richest junior tournament in the world.


Round One


In the first round, the higher seeds dominated the proceedings on most of the boards. Due to vast rating differences, they were able to score to comfortable victories over their less-fancied opponents.

Despite being only the first round, Ireland’s Tarun Kanyamarala impressed one and all with the way he planned his attack against Shah Harsh Hetalkumar. For his effort, Tarun was awarded the game of the day prize. 


13-year- old Tarun from Ireland won the coveted game of the day prize for round one.

 

The ‘game of the day’ prize is being awarded for each round of the tournament. Only games that are played on the top thirty boards in a particular round are considered for this prize, which is decided by the jury of IM Sagar Shah, IM Vishal Sareen, and Shubham Kumthekar. The winners receive a beautiful mug signed by none other than the great Viswanathan Anand himself!

 

Round Two

It was from round two that the top seeds found the going tough. Candidates Masters Bharath Subramaniyam and Shahil Dey suffered shock losses to Adireddy Tarun and Anshurup Gupta respectively. The rating difference on both occasions was more than 500 points, making it a huge result for Tarun and Anshurup.

Another Candidate Master - Rohith Krishna S. - had to content himself with a draw against talented 9-year-old Gaurang Bagwe from Mumbai.

For round two, the ‘game of the day’ prize went to Zia Tahsin Tajwar from Bangladesh. Zia, who is GM Ziaur Rahman’s son, played a fine game before employing a beautiful plan in the endgame, which won him this coveted prize. 


Zia Tahsin Tajwar from Bangladesh, the ‘game of the day’ prize-winner for round two.



Round Three


With players of lesser rating differences facing each other, the third round proved to be an absolute minefield for the top seeds. In the most dramatic result of the day, National Under-9 champion Om Manish Kadam played a gem of a game to overcome the challenge of WFM Divya Deshmukh, who is the reigning World Girls U-12 champion. Not only did he cause a major upset, but he also clinched the ‘game of the day’ prize for his effort.


Mumbai’s Om Manish Kadam is a massive talent, and he proved it once again when he scored a
scintillating victory over Divya Deshmukh in round three.

 

In other notable results, Leon Luke Mendonca, Pranav Anand, and defending champion Pranav V were held to draws Prachiti Chandratreya, Bhavika Ahuja and Dinesh Rajan M respectively. In each of the cases, the rating difference was close to 500 rating points. Notably, Prachiti and Bhavik held their much stronger opponents with the black pieces!

After the third round, as many as 18 players were leading with a perfect score of 3/3.

 

Round Four

While the fourth round was majorly dominated by the higher-rated players, a couple of results startled one and all. To begin with, top-seed Candidate Master Gukesh D was only able to draw against Vrandesh Parekh of Gujarat. With a rating difference exceeding well above 500 points, Gukesh was the firm favourite in the match-up. However, Vrandesh played a determined brand of chess, which may have caused Gukesh to go astray on move 35. Now, Vrandesh was firmly in the driver’s seat. However, surprisingly, he agreed to a draw on move 40 and Gukesh was able to salvage a crucial half point.


Top-seed Gukesh, who is often found with his eyes closed during the game, had a lucky escape in round four.


Another sensation was caused by Bhavik Ahuja’s upset victory over Leon Luke Mendonca. This was Bhavik’s second consecutive big result, after holding Pranav Anand to a draw in the previous round.

Going into round five, six players were in lead with 4/4.


Round Five


The fifth round was all set to be a crucial one, as the players who had consistently played well and won all their four games were now up against each other. On the top board, Anuj Shrivatri was held to a draw by Ashutosh Banerjee. But the second and third boards produced major decisive results. On board two, Om Manish Kadam, who had so far played brilliantly, succumbed to an inspired performance by Aaryan Varshney. In a Sicilian Najdorf game, Aaryan, playing black, kept up the pressure on Om and eventually reaped the benefits of the same.

On board three, Nikhil Magizhnan beat Mahitosh Dey in a game in which the queens had come off the board pretty quickly. Nikhil masterfully outplayed his opponent and went on to win the game in a convincing fashion.

However, the game of the day prize was bagged by Gukesh D, who played a model game based on the principles of chess, before finishing the game off with a beautiful checkmate.


The final position in Gukesh-Sriram, which won the game of the day prize for round 5. Isn’t it pretty!


After five rounds, only two players - Aaryan Varshney and Nikhil Magizhnan - lead the table. Both of them have won five games from as many rounds and will be up against each other in the fifth round of the tournament. We expect it to be a cracker of a battle. Stay tuned!