The IIFL Wealth 3rd Mumbai International Chess Tournament organized by EKA by IIFL IM came to a close on the evening of 7th of January, 2018. After nine straight days of gruesome battles, 17-year-old Iranian Grandmaster Parham Maghsoodloo and 11-year-old Indian Candidate Master Gukesh D clinched the open event and junior event respectively. The tournament was held at the Mount Litera School International, Bandra, Mumbai, and boasted a total prize fund of 20 lac rupees.


The champions of the third edition! GM Parham Maghsoodloo and CM Gukesh D


Let us look at how the events unfolded...

Juniors, Rounds 6-9

Aryan Varshney and Nikhil Magizhnan - the two leaders after round five - clashed in the sixth round, each looking to take the sole lead. However, the game only ended in a draw and the field opened up dramatically. Gukesh D, Pranav V and Srihari LR all won their respective games and joined Aaryan and Nikhil at the top of the table.

With as many as five players in lead and only three more rounds to go, it was clear that the seventh round would be crucial. At this moment, Pranav V and Nikhil Magizhnan duly grabbed their chances, overcoming Srihari LR and Jubin Jimmy respectively in the process. However, top-seed Gukesh D was held to a draw by Aaryan Varshney on the top-board, which meant that Pranav and Nikhil entered the eighth round as firm favourites to the title.


Pranav V, the champion of the second edition of the junior event


The eighth and penultimate round finally produced a sole leader in the junior section. Playing the black side of an Exchange Ruy Lopez, defending champion Pranav V showed his class and swiftly outplayed Nikhil Magizhnan. This victory took Pranav to 7.5/8, with Gukesh D and Aaryan Varshney close on Pranav’s heels with 7/8.

In the final round, Pranav and Gukesh had the luxury of white pieces against Aaryan Varshney and Rohith Krishna respectively. The individual rating differences were pretty much the same. It was clear that despite Pranav boasting a clear half-point lead, the tournament had a potentially thrilling finale in store. He tried his best, but could only draw against the in-form Aaryan. Gukesh, however, seemed to have other plans. Not only did he surprise one and all by going 1.f4 on the very first move, but also played a fine game to register a priceless victory. This meant that both - Gukesh and Pranav - finished with 8 points each and it all game down to the tie-break scores. It was here that Gukesh’s superior buchholz score came into play, and he was adjudged the winner of the IIFL Wealth 3rd Mumbai International Junior Chess Tournament.

Gukesh went home richer by 1.5 lac rupees. Notably, this was Gukesh’s third attempt at clinching the title at the ‘world’s richest junior chess tournament’.


Champion on the third attempt - Gukesh D from Chennai


Open, Rounds 5-9

The open event, in contrast, had a much steadier scenario on the top of the table. In the fifth round, the very top boards saw only one decisive game. GM Deepan Chakkravarthy, playing black against state-mate IM Nitin S, won a long, hard-fought game to take the sole lead with five wins in as many games. But he wasn’t too alone at the top. As many as 8 players were right on his heels with 4.5/8.

The sixth round, in hindsight, proved to be the end of the hopes for the defending champion - GM Adam Tukhaev of Ukraine. Facing the sole leader Deepan on the first board, Adam dominated the proceedings from the very beginning. It was towards the end of the middlegame that Adam started going astray, and all of his advantage fell apart. A draw was still on cards. However, Adam, probably by inertia, tried to win the game, which ultimately backfired. Deepan duly grabbed his chances and went on to win the game.


A rollercoaster battle between Deepan and Tukhaev ended in the former’s victory.


Now, Deepan had won all of his six games played thus far, and was half a point ahead of his nearest competitor - the Iranian teen GM Parham Maghsoodloo.

The seventh round saw a major change of guard. Deepan, who seemed to be coasting towards the title, was swiftly overcome by Maghsoodloo. In a game that took off calmly with the Reti Opening, the Iranian GM kept Deepan under the pump from the very start and went on to win a crucial game with just two more rounds to go.

The eighth and penultimate round was probably going to be Maghsoodloo’s biggest test - the Iranian talent was up against the experience of GM Abhijeet Gupta, the top-seed of the tournament. But once again, the Iranian talent came out on top - this time by scoring a convincing 46-move victory with the black pieces. With only one more round to be played, Maghsoodloo was within sniffing distance of the title. Only GMs Alberto and Deepan - both with 7/8 - were anywhere close to the Iranian’s score of 7.5/8.


Parham Maghsoodloo in action during one of his games


In the ninth and final round, Maghsoodloo was white against Alberto. The former played a solid game and registered a draw without much trouble. Deepan, however, lost his game to an inspired GM Timur Gareyev, who finished strongly with three straight wins towards the end. These results meant that the 17-year-old Iranian GM ended up as the only one to score 8/9, finishing sole first and bagging a cash prize of 3 lac rupees.

Prize Distribution

The chief guest for the prize-giving ceremony was none other than the legendary Viswanathan Anand himself. Anand landed in Mumbai at about 1:30 and was received at the airport to a thunderous reception.


In anticipation of the World Rapid Champion…



Anand being greeted at the airport by tournament director and
founder of Indian Chess School, Mr. Praful Zaveri.
 

Before the ceremony, he played a brief simul with about 20 players.


Anand in action during the simul.



All smiles after the simul!



Anand interacting briefly with the participants of the simul.


Later, speaking at the prize distribution, Anand remarked how the event has gone from strength to strength. He especially congratulated the organizers on promoting junior chess in India, and underlined how more than 1000 players had participated across the regional junior qualifiers held in lead up to the main event.



 

In keeping with the tradition of the tournament, the players were then awarded the prizes on the podium.


Jubilant winners! 3rd: Timur Gareyev, 1st: Parham Maghsoodloo, 2nd: David Alberto.



The budding champions being applauded by Vishy Anand! 3rd: Aaryan Varshney, 1st: Gukesh D, 2nd: Pranav V



The team of arbiters that ensured the smooth conduct of the events


Final Standings

Open
  1. GM Parham Maghsoodloo (Iran) 8/9
  2. GM David Alberto (Italy) 7.5/9
  3. GM Timur Gareyev (USA) 7.5/9
  4. GM Deepan Chakkravarthy (India) 7/9
  5. GM Atalik Suat (Turkey) 7/9
Junior (Under-13)
  1. CM Gukesh D. (India) 8/9
  2. Pranav V (India) 8/9
  3. Aaryan Varshney (India) 7.5/9
  4. Anuj Shrivatri (India) 7.5/9
  5. Zia Tahsin Tajwar (Bangladesh) 7.5/9

The 4th edition of the IIFL Wealth Mumbai International Chess Tournament has been announced and will be played from 30th December 2018 - 7th January, 2019.