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Reports May 4, 2022 | 12:53 PMby Colin McGourty

Erigaisi beats Shirov as Sigeman & co. begins

18-year-old Arjun Erigaisi climbed to 2680.3 on the live rating list as he began the TePe Sigeman & co. Chess Tournament in Malmo, Sweden with a convincing win over Alexei Shirov. The veteran was caught out in the opening, as was David Navara, who fell to defeat against Salem Saleh. Niemann-Adams and Grandelius-Van Foreest were drawn.

Arjun Erigaisi continues to take the chess world by storm | photo: Lars OA Hedlund, official website

You can replay all the games from the TePe Sigeman & co. tournament, and check out the pairings, using the selector below.

The 27th edition of the Sigeman & co. Chess Tournament is an 8-player event taking place in the Malmo Live concert hall from May 3-9, 2022. It’s brought together a strong mix of veterans and fast-rising youngsters, with none rising faster than 18-year-old Indian star Arjun Erigaisi.

This year alone Arjun has won the Tata Steel Challengers, the Indian Championship, the Delhi Open and the 1st stage of the MPL Indian Chess Tour, which qualified him to play on the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. He starts as just the 6th seed in Malmo, but is clearly one of the favourites and got off to a fast start.

Alexei Shirov was tested in one of his pet opening lines | photo: Lars OA Hedlund, official website

49-year-old Alexei Shirov came into the event having rejoined the 2700 club with a win over Gawain Jones in the 4NCL, but he had work to do already on move 12.

In the 26 games Shirov had reached this Botvinnik position, his opponent had played 12.g3 25 times and 12.h4 once. The modest bishop move 12.Be2 wasn’t new, but it caused Alexei to think for the first time in the game and, as the players soon entered uncharted territory, he played slowly while Arjun didn’t spend more than 30 seconds on a move until move 20.

The strategic battlelines for the rest of the game became clear when Arjun simplified with 20.Bxf6 Bxf6 21.Ne4 Qe5 22.Nxf6 Qxf6 23.h5!, with the passed h-pawn the reason that White could look boldly into the future despite being down a pawn.

Shirov had chances to hold in the play that followed, but by move 28 he got down to under a minute on his clock in an extremely complicated position, and when the time control had passed Arjun was winning. It was fitting that Alexei resigned when the pawn reached h7.

41…Rg1+ 42.Kh2 and Black would have no follow-up, since the queen on a8 is covering the h1 and e4-squares.

Erigaisi climbed to 2680.3 and world no. 58, while he’s also continuing to prove he’s one of the world’s best juniors.

The only player to keep pace with Arjun was Salem Saleh, who also has some reason to keep an eye on the rating list. The 29-year-old from the UAE can cross 2700 for the 1st time, with his opening win over Czech no. 1 David Navara taking him up to 2694.9. 

Salem Saleh also got off to a fast start | photo: Lars OA Hedlund, official website

The game largely seemed to be decided by Salem’s offbeat opening, including the novelty 8.Nh2.

The players discussed the game afterwards, with Salem noting that the computer considers White already to be seriously better, with the threat of f4-f5 hard to meet.

A wild game followed where Salem missed some wins and at one point was worried he’d get a theoretically winning but tough to win endgame with two knights against a pawn. Instead he finished with two queens.

The oldest player in the field is England’s Michael Adams, who at 50 is just a year older than Alexei Shirov. After barely playing during the pandemic, he admitted in a podcast before the tournament that he felt, “a certain amount of trepidation”.

He survived the first game, however, holding a difficult position against the top US junior, Hans Niemann.

Hans Niemann couldn't break through against "Spiderman" | photo: Lars OA Hedlund, official website

There was also a draw in Grandelius-Van Foreest, which it's perhaps a surprise to learn was a clash between the tournament’s bottom and top seeds. Jorden went for an offbeat line of the Caro-Kann and solved all his problems with a central pawn break as the game ended in a draw.

Swedish no. 1 Nils Grandelius vs. Dutch no. 2 Jorden van Foreest | photo: Lars OA Hedlund, official website

Erigaisi vs. Saleh will already be a clash of the leaders in Round 2, and with just 7 rounds the Swedish tournament is a sprint.

It should be fun to watch, while most of the chess world’s attention will turn to Bucharest, Romania, where the Superbet Chess Classic, the 1st event on the 2022 Grand Chess Tour, features world no. 3 Alireza Firouzja and six more of the world’s Top 10.

It’s a 9-round classical tournament and the organisers will be hoping that it’s not the draw fest we got in 2021! You can watch it live here on chess24 from 14:00 CEST on Thursday May 5th, while the TePe Sigeman & co. continues at 15:00 CEST.  

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