Kolkata: Arjun Erigaisi, an Indian youngster, defeated world number four Levon Aronian in the final round to win the Tata Steel Chess India rapid title in Kolkata on Friday. His calculation was called as “simply superlative” by Vishy Anand after the 18-year-old escaped with a full point draw against Aronian to create the historic moment.
And, without a doubt, the final clash was tremendously exciting since, at the Draw of Lots Ceremony Press Conference, Arjun stated that he was keen to play against Aronian. In reply, Aronian had said, “Of course he is looking forward to play with me and I played recently and he beat me 2-0. Why would not he? ”
“When I came to the tournament I had no expectations. I just wanted to play my best and enjoy. By the end of Day 2 I started to think about the standings,” said Arjun after his triumph.
He had every cause to be confident, as his perfect 3/3 on Day 2 had propelled him into a full point lead over Levon Aronian and Praggnanandhaa, with Vidit behind by a half point. The last day was always going to be more difficult, but when it was all said and done, Arjun was still a point ahead of the pack.
With a one-point lead going into the last round, Arjun needed to conquer the final barrier – perhaps his toughest opponent in top-seed Aronian.
After the ceremonial fist bump, Arjun remained with his favourite opening, The Petroff, in response to Aronian’s 1. e4, since he required a draw to secure the deal.
However, a well-prepared Aronian moved rapidly through the opening moves, and on move 16, the Armenian No. 1 cashed in on a chance to gain a pawn, putting Arjun in trouble.
The one-time World Cup winner tightened the screws on the 18-year-old Indian as the game went, resulting in a passed pawn on the central file.
Under immense pressure, the youngster found a series of moves with incredible perfection to clinch a draw and maintain his lead in the rankings.
R Praggnanandhaa finished third, while Vidit Gujrathi and Murali Karthikeyan rounding out the top five. Arjun will now replace Adhiban Baskaran in the Blitz category.