Chess | Arjun Erigaisi has the last laugh


Staying incredibly calm under tremendous pressure, Arjun Erigaisi stunned top seed B. Adhiban 3.5-2.5 to emerge as the surprise winner of the online Indian Qualifiers for the Champions Chess Tour on Monday.

With the finalists having already qualified, the interest on the final day was limited to the identity of the champion. Aravindh Chithambaram defeated D. Gukesh 2.5-0.5, after winning the second and third games, to finish third.

Having started his campaign in the 16-player field by knocking out highly-rated Nihal Sarin, Arjun collected the winner’s share of $1500.


Defensive skill

Underdog Arjun, who had his chances in the second game, went on to keep the score at 2-2 after four rapid games. In the first five-minute blitz game, Adhiban held a huge advantage before Arjun’s defensive skills proved decisive.

Adhiban, playing white, had Arjun on the ropes after rolling out his kingside pawns to put the latter’s bishop-pair temporarily out of play. The exchange of queens, followed by an oversight from Adhiban, enabled Arjun to bounce right back.

In complicated positions, Arjun saw some accurate continuations and punished Adhiban to pull off what turned out to be a title-deciding victory.


In the second blitz game, where Adhiban faced a must-win situation, Arjun played white and stayed in control. A desperate Adhiban held no real chance of levelling the match-score in a game that eventually ended in a copybook stalemate on the board.

The next event on the Champions Chess Tour will be from May 23 to 31 and offers $220,000 in prize-money.

The results: Final: Arjun Erigaisi bt B. Adhiban 3.5-2.5 (Arjun won blitz mini-match 1.5-0.5). Third place: Aravindh Chithambaram bt D. Gukesh 2.5-0.5.


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