International Master Nihal Sarin became the 53rd Grandmaster of India despite losing his final round game to Richard Rapport of Hungary in the ninth and final round of Abu Dhabi Masters here. The 14-year-old Nihal tallied 5.5 points out of a possible nine and the final GM norm came the Kerala boy’s way with one round to spare.
Daniil Dubov of Russia won one of the strongest Asian open thanks to a better tiebreak with a splendid score of 7.5 points out of a possible nine. Anton Korobov of Ukraine and A R Salem Saleh of Uae matched Dubov on points but the Russian was ahead as the tie was resolved.
Aravindh Chithambaram lost to Salem Saleh in a keenly contested Sicilian game in the final round while Dubov accounted for Ivan CHeparinov of Georgia. The overnight sole leader Korobov was happy to get a draw as black against Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia. Although Arviandh lost, the 88-member Indian contingent had a lot to cheer as four Grandmaster norms and three International Master norms came India’s way.
Sargissian finished fourth on 7 points and then there was a big tie for the fifth spot where Murali Karthikeyan, Debashish Das, and Harsha Bhartakoti figured. Bhartakoti had a tall task on hand in the final round as he needed to win against Levan Pantsulaia but the Andhra-based player showed steely nerves to come up trumps.
For Erigaisi Arjun it was relatively easier as he beat N Krishna Teja while Iniyan had played some very high-quality opposition that ensured him the GM norm despite a loss to English Grandmaster and FIDE Presidential candidate Nigel Short.