Qatar Final: Carlsen triumphs!

The 9th and final round of the Qatar Masters 2015 turned out to be a befitting finale to a fantastic event. Despite World Champion Magnus Carlsen (who was solely leading the field before the final round) opting for a quick draw against GM Vladimir Kramnik to cement his top spot, defending champion GM Yu Yangyi ensured that the World Champion didn’t have it easy. The Chinese Grandmaster overcame GM So Wesley in a rather interesting battle to enter a tie-break for the first prize against Carlsen.

However, the tie-break witnessed a dominant performance by the World Champion. Carlsen overcame Yu Yangyi with a 2-0 scoreline to clinch the Qatar Masters 2015, thus adding another feather to his cap. Yu Yangyi, meanwhile, finished as the runner-up on the back of an impressive finish.

Amongst Indians, GMs Ganguly, Harikrishna and Sethuraman finished tied for the 8th-17th spots.

A lot of up and coming players put on some exceptional performances. Of special note is untitled Chinese player Xu Yinglun, who notched up a total of 6 points with an outstanding rating performance of 2800, thus securing a Grandmaster norm. IMs Shardul Gagare and Vignesh NR (both India), IM Daniil Yuffa (Russia) and IM Lin Chen (China) were the other players who managed to secure Grandmaster norms. The complete norms list can be found here.

Final Standings: Here

Qatar 04: Carlsen back at the top

The top-board battle between GMs Li Chao and Anish Giri in the fourth round of the Qatar Masters Open 2015 turned out to be a well-fought draw. However, this result helped GMs Carlsen, Wesley So and Matlakov as they won their respective games to join Li Chao and Giri at the top of the table. The aforementioned five players have notched up 3.5 points each.

Meanwhile, Indian juniors continued to impress at this very strong open. The biggest result of the day was produced by Indian IM Vignesh N. R. who shocked Chinese sensation Wei Yi in a game that witnessed lots of up and downs. Vignesh is currently on an impressive 3/4. Also, other Indian juniors like IM Gagare and untitled Harshit Raja have amassed 2.5/4 and are holding their own despite the high level of opposition.

The 5th round of the tournament promises to be very exciting with the top boards witnessing elite-level clashes. On the first board, World Champion Magnus Carlsen is pitted against GM Li Chao whilst on the second, GM Anish Giri will be playing GM Wesley So.

Round 4 Results: Here

Qatar 03: It’s time for Li Chao vs Giri!

With wins over GMs Wojtaszek and Sethuraman respectively, GMs Giri and Li Chao moved to 3/3, becoming the only two players to retain perfect scores at the end of Round 3 of the Qatar Masters Open 2015. The duo will take on each other in what will be the central battle of Round 4.

Meanwhile, World Champion Magnus Carlsen overcame IM Yuffa in a convincing manner whilst GM Mamedyarov won a nice attacking game against GM Lenderman. On the other hand, GM Kramnik was pushed against the wall by Italian GM Vocaturo. However, the former World Champion eventually managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat.

Amongst Indians, IM Gagare continued his fantastic run as he held top-ranked female player GM Hou Yifan to a draw. So far, Gagare has notched up 2 points and is undefeated. However, it is GM Ganguly who is currently leading the Indian challenge with 2.5/3.

Round 3 Results: Here

Qatar 02: Only 9 players with perfect score

The second round of the Qatar Masters Open 2015 saw only nine players emerge with perfect scores. This group of players includes top GMs like Anish Giri, Wesley So and Li Chao along with Indian hope GM Sethuraman and five others.

The top-board clash between GM Vladimir Kramnik and GM Piorun Kacper witnessed an excellent defensive effort by the latter, who accurately neutralized Kramnik’s chances in a tricky Rook endgame to secure a draw. GMs Sergey Karjakin and Shakriyar Mamedyarov were also held to draws. However, other top GMs like Anish Giri and So Wesley won their games in a relatively comfortable fashion.

As usual, World Champion Magnus Carlsen’s game evoked a lot of interest. Playing India’s GM Aravindh with the black pieces, Carlsen emerged better right out of the opening, only to squander the advantage later in his opponent’s time-trouble. However, the Indian prodigy was unable to find the best moves with his clock ticking, ending up in a tough position before finally losing on time.

The third round of the tournament promises to be even more exciting, with an all-2700 clash between Anish Giri and Radoslaw Wojtaszek scheduled on board one.

Round 2 Results: Here

Qatar 01: Carlsen held to a draw, Wei Yi shocked

The first round of the Qatar Masters Open 2015 took off with a bang as a few big names suffered upsets while many others were held to draws. The top board itself provided the most surprising result of the opening round – World Champion Magnus Carlsen could only draw against IM Nino Batsiashvili.

The Carlsen-Batsiashvili game took off with a Reti opening that resembled a reversed Benko Gambit. Typically, Carlsen outplayed his opponent and emerged with a nice positional advantage in the endgame. However, Carlsen surprisingly mishandled his position and the game soon petered out to a draw.

On the other hand, Chinese sensation GM Wei Yi suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of Indian IM Shardul Gagare. Wei Yi’s opening experiment with the Blumenfeld Gambit backfired as Gagare emerged with an advantageous position out of the opening. Despite missing a few winning chances, Gagare dominated for the entire course of the game, which finally ended on move 53 when Wei Yi decided to resign. However, analysis by engines and experts suggests that Wei Yi’s resignation was a bit premature.

The table immediately next to the the Gagare-Wei Yi game witnessed another surprise – untitled Chinese player Xu Yinglun inflicted an upset on GM Nikita Vitiugov. It must be borne in mind that Xu Yinglun had scored a GM norm at the Qatar Masters 2014, remaining unbeaten throughout the event.

Several top-notch GMs like Ivanchuk, Harikrishna and Jakovenko were also held to draws by opponents rated almost 250 rating points below them.

Round 1 Results: Here