Chess: Report closes in on candidates as Six-Year-Old Thieves show up in Blackpool | Chess
Richard Rapport is set to claim one of the two remaining spots in the 2022 Candidates after the Hungarian beat Russian Dmitry Andreikin 1.5-0.5 in Belgrade in the second leg of the Fide Grand Prix final. The action now moves on to the third and final stop in Berlin from March 21 to April 4, which Rapport will have to skip while its rivals battle it out.
the decisive game had a remarkable climax. Rapport had the chance of an immediate draw by repeat, but instead let his time drop to two minutes before opting for unfathomable complications that proved in his favor.
Berlin in March-April will have 16 players, four preliminary groups and a death group which contains Andreikin as well as the two Americans, Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian, who finished first and second in Berlin in February. The arithmetic shows that two of this trio will be eliminated, while the fourth player, Grigoriy Oparin, is potentially the kingmaker.
Depending on what happens in the death squad, the other major contenders – Anish Giri, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Leinier Domínguez – could still be in contention. However, a scenario where Oparin plays harder against the American duo than his compatriot seems likely, and that could prove significant in a six-lap sprint distance.
Elite action returns online this Saturday when Magnus Carlsen is seeded in the Charity Cup, the second event of the Meltwater Champions Tour. Rapport is taking part, as are Chinese world number 3 Ding Liren, world champion Ju Wenjun and England’s Gawain Jones. The games start at 5 p.m. Months later, the 44th Chess Olympiad, away from Moscow, was confirmed for Chennai, India in July-August.
Last weekend’s Blackpool conference at the Imperial Hotel was England’s first major over-the-board weekend conference of 2022. Its attendance of 281 was down from pre-pandemic levels, but still a healthy number as 143 took part in a quick overlap at Golders Green.
GM Danny Gormally, rated nearly 100 or more points more than the rest of the field at 2,520, was heavy favorite for the £700 top prize but the England No 12 missed out somewhat, conceded two draws and had to settle for 4/5 and a tie at seven for the top honours. In this file of games from the Open, Gormally’s entertainment third round victory is recommended.
Blackpool’s most significant result was away from the Open, in the Under 1850 Intermediate (ECF 150 in old money). Six-year-old Kushal Jakhria, 70th and the lowest ranked at the start, took half a point on Friday night then beat his four adult opponents on Saturday and Sunday for 4.5/5 and a third share of the £500 first . price.
His victims weren’t chicks either. Michael Connor (third round) had won the 2018 Blackpool Inter, while Bob Kane (fourth round) had won the Scarborough 2021 Major.
Jakhria already made an appearance in this column when he became London Under-8 champion at the age of five. Like England’s best-known teenage player, Shreyas Royal, he was a pupil of Pointer School in Blackheath and learned other chess skills at his local club Charlton, which has an excellent reputation for junior talent.
Jakhria’s trainer, Fide Master Alexis Harakis, helped his pupil become a specialist in Sicilian Sveshnikov and the white side of a classic King’s Indian. His online Lichess rating is already over 2200.
The English Chess Federation currently operates a Acceleration program for 10 of its most promising players, for whom a selection criteria is to be at least in the top five of their age group in the UK. None of the current members of the program are under the age of 11, and Royal is the only one to have achieved a high world ranking and medal in a World or European Championship.
In the golden years of English chess, some of the most gifted talents emerged at age eight or younger, such as Nigel Short, Michael Adams, Luke McShane, David Howell, Jovanka Houska and others. They received special opportunities, were mentored and coached to become GMs early in their careers and achieved their goals.
The flow Faithful list for players born in 2015, all of whom count as under-7s, shows Jakhria as world No.4, on course to reach No.2 on April’s list which will include Blackpool, and within reach of the #1.
The Charlton boy is not alone as a very young English talent. Bodhana Sivanandan, born in Harrow in 2015, who won silver medals in the European girls under-8 rapid and blitz, is the world No. 1 in blitz in her age group by a huge margin of 322 fide points. Bodhana learned the moves just 15 months ago, attends a local state primary school, St John Fisher, and does not have a chess coach, although Harrow CC and its chairman, Nevil Chan, have provided advice and support.
It’s the beginning, but these two children have already established themselves as exceptional. Jakhria’s result at Blackpool is probably the best performance ever by an English six-year-old, while Sivanandan’s medals in Serbia match Houska’s fifth place on her debut at the 1988 Women’s U10 World Cup. Their situation calls for a Godfather…
3807 1 Nf6+! gxf6 2 Rxe7! Qxe7 3 Qg4+! Kh8 4 Qf5 and wins.