Hainan Danzhou Masters: Vidit Gujrathi suffers shocking defeat against Jan-Krzysztof Duda in opening round

The 9th Danzhou Super Grandmaster Tournament went underway at the Baiyun Havana Resort Hotel in the town of Luzhou Guangcun in China on Friday. Featuring a field of eight young and promising Grandmasters from around the globe, the event promises some exciting games in its course. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30 second increment from move 1.

The only Indian in the fray is the country's youngest player to breach the 2700 Elo mark, GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi. After the Karpov Poikovsky International in Russia, this is Vidit's second appearance in a closed grandmaster tournament. And this time, the field is even stronger and, in comparison to Karpov Poikovsky, even younger. Given the strength of the field, this is surely going to be a testing event for the Indian number three.

 Hainan Danzhou Masters: Vidit Gujrathi suffers shocking defeat against Jan-Krzysztof Duda in opening round

Vidit Gujrathi suffered his first loss of the year in the opening round of the Danzhou Masters. Image courtesy: qipai.org.cn

Round one saw most games end peacefully. Yu Yangyi versus Le Quang Liem and Wei Yi against Fedoseev were the first two games to finish and both were just dull draws. Bu Xiangzhi had some serious chances against Sam Shankland but missed opportunities led to an eventual draw. Jan Krzysztof Duda was the only victor of the round who brought down Vidit Gujrathi of India and took an early lead in the tournament.

Vidit Gujrathi vs Jan Krzysztof Duda was that one game which game really stood out from the rest of the pack, not because it was the only decisive game of the round but because Duda went for broke to carve out a win in this one.

Vidit is a very difficult opponent to beat. In fact, Vidit hadn't lost a single game this year before this one. He is always well prepared and hardly takes too much risk. But Duda pounced on the first opportunity he got in the game to unsettle his opponent.

The Classical French seemed to have gone fine for both players. Neither side seemed to have anything to worry about. Coming out safe from the opening, Vidit offered a trade of his queenside rook for its black counterpart, the only black piece that looked threatening. Duda hardly had a choice here; he was forced to exchange. But on the very next move after the exchange, he uncorked 24…Nxc3, a knight sacrifice that suddenly changed the dynamic of the position.

Even though this does not lead to a forced win, this is, perhaps, what was needed to unsettle an opponent like Vidit. The computers can scream equality all they want but after Vidit had captured the offered knight, black's queenside pawn duo began to look menacing. Vidit countered well on the kingside but faltered soon afterwards.

While Vidit desperately tried to generate an initiative on the kingside, Duda came up with an ingenious solution to liquidate the position. Temporarily sacrificing his queen first, Duda trapped the white queen to shut down any counter-play by his opponent. Quite incredibly, Vidit was dead lost in this endgame despite being a whole piece up!

Meanwhile, the man best known for having knocked out Magnus Carlsen from the World Cup last year, Bu Xiangzhi, played an enterprising game with the white pieces against American GM Samuel Shankland in the inaugural round. Giving up two pawns in a Fianchetto Gruenfeld, Bu generated some strong chances for himself in the middle game. By the 23rd move, he was even close to winning.

By the 23rd move, it seemed that the black queen was running out of squares. It could not have left the diagonal it was on as that would have allowed the enemy queen to infiltrate with devastating effect. And had Shankland kept the queen on this diagonal, he would have lost an exchange, leaving Bu in a clearly winning position.

standings final

Bu missed the critical line played something which led to a more or less even position. But then Shankland again gave up an exchange, leaving himself with a rook and a knight against white's queen and giving his opponent a winning position once again.

But once again, Bu failed to capitalize on his opponent’s mistakes and went on to draw in about fifteen more moves.

In the game between Wei Yi and Vladimir Fedoseev, the Chinese GM did come up with a novelty in the Bogo Indian but it hardly led him anywhere. Fedoseev quickly broke in the center in response after which the Chinese GM had to acquiesce to a mass exchange of pieces which led to a barren position.

Yu Yangyi against Le Quang Liem was the first game to finish and this was no barnburner either. Here again, a mass exchange of pieces right out of the opening led the players into an equal endgame. For argument’s sake, black had an outside passed pawn. A couple of more exchanges drifted the game into an endgame with bishops of opposite colour wherein the players promptly agreed to a draw.

At the end of day 1, Jan Krzysztof Duda, the only victor of the day is in the pole position. Everyone else except Vidit Gujrathi share second place with a score of 0.5/1, while Gujrathi, after his loss, is in the bottom-most spot.

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Updated Date: Jul 28, 2018 16:10:00 IST