Telangana chess prodigy Arjun continues to shine despite rating risks

Known for his attacking playing style, the 20-year-old Warangal chess prodigy dominated the 10-player field Stepan Avagyan Memorial in Armenia and won it with a round to spare in the tournament.
Arjun Erigaisi
Arjun Erigaisi Photo | Express.

HYDERABAD : Rallying against the odds, India’s No.1 and World No.4 chess player Arjun Erigaisi has been consistently achieving career-high live ratings through his extraordinary performances in open tournaments despite the higher risk of losing rating points in such events.

Known for his attacking playing style, the 20-year-old Warangal chess prodigy dominated the 10-player field Stepan Avagyan Memorial in Armenia and won it with a round to spare in the tournament. After this his live ratings had risen to 2779.9 (till round eight).

“Since I was the clear rating favourite, I knew if I play at my best I should be able to win the tournament,” Erigaisi told TNIE over the phone from Jermuk late Tuesday after the last round. His final game was a draw, which brought his live rating down to 2778.1.

Erigaisi viewed his eighth and penultimate round win against Russian GM Volodar Murzin as the toughest throughout the tournament. “He is a very solid player and holds his fort well even in slightly worse positions, when there are no dynamics involved and it’s all about strategic play. In this game we both were completely equal. But I just kept playing and slowly managed to outplay him,” said the grandmaster.

Erigaisi’s Uzbek trainer Rustam Kasimdzhanov is confident that his present ratings and rankings would help him get invites to the closed super-elite invitational tournaments next season, something he missed this year. “His ratings have rapidly improved over the past six months. If he keeps up his ranking, he will be invited to all top tournaments next year,” Kasimdzhanov told TNIE.

Kasimdzhanov, who helped Viswanathan Anand during his World Championship days, said Erigaisi’s lightness of touch over the board reminds him of Viswanathan Anand. “The kind of speed, perception, deceptiveness he [Erigaisi] has is close to Vishy. Chess comes naturally to both of them and they make it look effortless,” he added.

The Ukrainian grandmaster believes that there is still room for the Telangana chess prodigy to improve as he is not playing at the top events.

“Currently, he does not have many classical games under his belt against top players such as Carlsen, Caruana and other strong players. This gives him space to improve further,” asserted Kasimdzhanov.

For now, Erigaisi is focused on Leon Masters to be held at the month-end, his gym sessions and a bit of meditation that he recently started.

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