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GMs Pentala Harikrishna and Pavel Eljanov started with victories over GMs Arjun Erigaisi and Parham Maghsoodloo respectively in two high-pressure, undefeated matches to share the lead by one point after the first round of the Chennai Grand Masters 2023. Both players kept their nerves in check in a quick time that seemed to decide the day.

The other two meetings of the day between GMs Levon Aronian and Gukesh Dommaraju, and GMs Alexandr Predke and Sanan Sjugirov ended in difficulty.

Chennai Grand Masters continues with the second round Saturday, December 16, at 4:45 am ET/10:45 CET/3:15 pm IST.

Chennai Grand Masters Round 1 Results

Secrets Tips
Standard Head A player Results Head A player Standard
1 2723 GM Levon Aronian ½-½ GM Gukesh D 2720
2 2742 GM P. Maghsoodloo 0-1 GM Pavel Eljanov 2691
3 2703 GM word Sjugirov ½-½ GM Alexander Predke 2689
4 2696 GM P. Harikrishna 1-0 GM Arjun Erigaisi 2727

The draw ceremony was held at the venue of the competition – The Leela Palace Hotel, located in the heart of Chennai but impressively away from the usual noise, on the banks of the Adyar River, overlooking the vast expanse of the Bay of Bengal.

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Such places offer spectacular views of the ocean, the sea, and the beach, even under the cloudy sky, all of which make it a unique place for the competition.

The view from the place. Photo: Venkatachalam Saravanan/Chess.com.

Opening And Shooting More

As is customary in India, the race started with the lighting of the traditional lamp, in the presence of the organizers and officials of the state government of Tamil Nadu, which contributed to the entire cost of the race.

Aruna Anand, wife of Vishy Anand, lighting the lamp, watched by (from left to right) seniors Atulya Mishra and Meghanatha Reddy, and two of Tamil Nadu’s chess champions, Dr. Manickam and Kailasanathan. Photo: Chennai Grand Masters 2023.

The organization also brought the interest of drawing lots, as the players chose between eight pictures drawn by the young artist Akhil Anand, the son of a former international champion. Vishy Anand. The artwork is based on the theme of “Poikkal Kuthirai,” (translated as “false-legged horse”), a folk dance of the state of Tamil Nadu.

Art by Akhil Anand. Photo: Venkatachalam Saravanan/Chess.com.

The funniest moment of the evening was when Aronian came to get his number, and Akhil tried to help him.

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One of the inevitable issues of the competition is the qualifying goals of FIDE Candidates Chess Tournament 2024 by Gukesh and Arjun (via Trust Circuit) and Maghsoodloo (through measurement). I think it’s up to everyone if this puts too much pressure on them, and let others in the tournament play with a more open mind.

Another big thing is the control of the time being followed, which is not very similar to this type of competition: all games are played with 90 minutes for each player on the clock, with an increase of 30 seconds for the move from the beginning. Appearing on live commentary, GM Anish Giri called it “unusual” and declared, “I’ve never played with this time in my life!”

The contradictions can be easily understood when we look at a few critical moments from both games.

After defending a difficult ending for a long time, Maghsoodloo had to get 51.Rb1! saving the pull here, which may have been difficult with less time on the clock. He was wrong 51. Re3 and Eljanov won the game.

When asked about not forcing him to play on a special target, Eljanov answered directly: “Yes, I was very relaxed. I did not prepare much before the game. I slept very well – it helped me to get over the fatigue of the flight.” It showed on the scoreboard as well, where Eljanov looked composed throughout the game with no outward display of emotion on the scoreboard.

Pavel Eljanov-acting freely. Photo: Chennai Grand Masters 2023.

Harikrishna admitted that he was not prepared for an easy opener of the day against Arjun, but he was rewarded with a serious error from his opponent early in the match.

Here, a simple scheme like 15…Kf7 and the advancement of his pieces would have kept the equality, but Arjun made a mistake. 15…Bxc3? looking prosaic 16 mc1!, which gave Harikrishna an eternal advantage in his favorite part of the game, the end of the game.

From childhood, Harikrishna’s power was his ultimate skill. Therefore, at the end of the game and the rooks and bishops of color came to the board, it was expected that Hari would be able to change his luck. But with both players one minute on the clock, and all looking at the scoreboard, it was Hari’s turn to ignore the easy way out.

Harikrishna should have found 49.f5!, a sacrifice, to lead the push of his h-pawn here, but he messed up. 49 Ra7. After that 50.f5Arjun seemed to have a simple way of protecting the film:

Arjun had to get 50 … Rh1+ 51.Kd2 Rxh5 to end the game here, because the loss of White’s h-pawn is inevitable. However, he was wrong 50…Rxf5?? to allow 51.a6 and Harikrishna won the match.

This exciting encounter is the Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below (coming soon.)

The other two matches ended in short-lived fights. The Aronian-Gukesh encounter was billed as match of the day, but it didn’t get much attention. Aronian revealed after the match that he was still not done and was losing sleep.

Aronian-Gukesh was a meeting that promised to be a spectator favorite. Photo: Chennai Grand Masters 2023.

Standings After Round 1

How to watch Chennai Grand Masters 2023

You can follow all the matches and results of the tournament on our live events platform by following this link.

Chennai Grand Masters 2023 is an eight-player tournament in Chennai, India that will be held from December 15-21. The most powerful invitational competition ever held in India, gives Gukesh, Arjun, and Maghsoodloo a chance to join the 2024 Candidates competition. The prize fund is $60,000, with $18,000 for first place.


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A self-motivated and hard-working individual, I am currently engaged in the field of digital marketing to pursue my passion of writing and strategising. I have been awarded an MSc in Marketing and Strategy with Distinction by the University of Warwick with a special focus in Mobile Marketing. On the other hand, I have earned my undergraduate degrees in Liberal Education and Business Administration from FLAME University with a specialisation in Marketing and Psychology.

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