Qatar Masters Round 8: Advantage Arjun (2024)

Indian GM Arjun Erigaisi takes a half-point lead into the final round of the Qatar Masters 2023 after his win over GM David Paravyan ended any lingering title hopes for star GMs such as Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, and Gukesh Dommaraju. GM Hikaru Nakamura's dramatic win over GM Pranav Venkateshkept him in the hunt, along with five more players, while IM Vaishali Rameshbabu has wrapped up her third and final grandmaster norm with a round to spare.

The ninth and final round starts two hours earlier than usualon Friday, October 20, at 6:15 a.m. ET/12:15 CEST/3:45 p.m. IST.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2023 Qatar Masters on the Qatar Chess Association YouTube: and on Hikaru Nakamura's Kick channel: Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcast was hosted by IM Irine Sukandar, IM Jovanka Houska, and GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko.

Six players led on 5.5/7 going into round eight of the Qatar Masters, and the three games between them would have a huge bearing on the chances of the remaining players in the event. The all-Uzbekistan clash between GMs Javokhir Sindarov and Nodirbek Yakubboev, and the all-Indian clash between GMs Karthikeyan Murali and Naryanan Sunilduth Lyna, both ended in draws, allowing Arjun to take the sole lead with a win over Paravyan.

Qatar Masters Round 8: Advantage Arjun (1)

That game was close to level after a tense opening, but when Paravyan swapped off queens, he seemed to miss, or seriously underestimate, the power of the combination that his Indian opponent launched with 17.Bxb5!. Arjun never looked back.

Arjun's win took him to 6.5/8. Since he was set to play someone on 6/8 in the final round, it meant that anyone with a score below six points was out of contention for first place. That included top-seed Carlsen and fourth-seed Gukesh, despite their posting sparkling wins. Carlsen turned to the London System as he took on GM Gregory Kaidanov.

Qatar Masters Round 8: Advantage Arjun (2)

The world number-one seemed to have decided to relax and go with the flow, and it worked perfectly as he combined bold, conceptual play with a big lead on the clock. Nakamura joked:

It’s very, very rude of a player like Magnus who’s very young to try and put pressure on the clock against a guy like Kaidanov who’s 64 years old. It’s simply very rude, and Magnus doesn’t know how to respect his elders.

23.Nc5! was the star move to keep winning chances alive.

Qatar Masters Round 8: Advantage Arjun (3)

Gukesh, meanwhile, found a wonderful finish to take down GM Robby Kevlishvili, even if he wasn't going to sing his own praises. He commented on his game afterward on the live commentary: "It was, I believe, not very clean, but the tactics at the end were quite nice."

That's our Game of the Day, with annotations by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Another player to fall just short was the number-three seed, Giri, who, in a must-win game, walked into the hammer blow 12.Qxf7+! from Indian GM Abhimanyu Puranik.

That draw also makes Abhimanyu the latest Indian GM to get a shot at Carlsen, whom he'll play with the white pieces in the final round.

Other players to miss out on getting the win on demand they needed were GM S P Sethuraman, who was frustrated by superb defense from GM Parham Maghsoodloo, and GM Grigoriy Oparin, who was winning by move 13 against GM Aleksandr Shimanovbut was held to a 65-move draw.

Two players did win on demand to keep title hopes alive, however. One was 2021 World Rapid Champion GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who overpowered his Uzbek countryman GM Jakhongir Vakhidov. The other was Nakamura, whose 17-year-old Indian opponent Pranav had been instrumental in Carlsen's Offerspill winning the recent European Club Cup. The youngster acquired a nickname in the process.

Pranav is buddy and buddy is Pranav.

— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) October 7, 2023

The clash saw Nakamura seize control in the opening and look set to win smoothly, but later things got out of hand, leading to some wild positions. At one point Nakamura missed a stunning win.

The amazing 35.Bg5!! (threatening Qh5+) is winning now for Nakamura, but will he find it? #QatarMasters2023

— (@chess24com) October 19, 2023

Nakamura said at this moment he'd only looked at 35.Ng5+, which doesn't win, and instead he retreated his bishop to f2. That was a glimmer of hope for Pranav, but low on time he soon collapsed in a game that was analyzed in depth by Nakamura himself in his latest recap.

The fate of the title in Qatar will be decided in just four matchups:

  • Narayanan vs. Nakamura
  • Abdusattorov vs. Arjun
  • Yakubboev vs. Karthikeyan
  • Giri vs. Sindarov

Giri, as mentioned, can't win the title himself, though he can play spoiler. Only Arjun has everything in his own hands, since if he beats Abdusattorov, he takes first place whatever happens elsewhere. If we get a tie for first, however, then the title will be decided in a blitz playoff.

One player who can afford to relax a little in the final round is Vaishali, who will wrap up her third and final grandmaster norm just as long as Kaidanov shows up at the board for the final round.

Qatar Masters Round 8: Advantage Arjun (5)

There's still something to play for, however, since Vaishali leads the race to win the $5,000 women's first prize, but second-placed IM Bibisara Assaubayeva is just half a point behind. Vaishali might also feel now is as good a time as any to push for the 2500 rating still required to earn the grandmaster title.

The standings at the top look as follows with one round to go.

Qatar Masters | Standings After Round 8 (Top 41)

Rk.Seed NoNameAgeSexGrFEDRatingPointsH2HPerf
16GMErigaisi, ArjunU2027126.502810
312GMSindarov, JavokhirU202658602773
42GMNakamura, Hikaru2780602766
520GMKarthikeyan, Murali2611602751
619GMYakubboev, Nodirbek2616602741
75GMAbdusattorov, NodirbekU202716602718
823GMParavyan, David25995.502713
97GMMaghsoodloo, Parham27075.502700
103GMGiri, Anish27605.502683
1131GMShimanov, Aleksandr25665.502669
1216GMSalem, A.R. SalehAr.26325.502666
131GMCarlsen, Magnus28395.502655
144GMGukesh, DU2027585.502637
1424GMSethuraman, S.P.25985.502637
1618GMPuranik, Abhimanyu26185.502632
1711GMOparin, Grigoriy26815.502608
1826GMKuybokarov, Temur25845.502591
1921GMGupta, Abhijeet26095.502582
2088IMZou, Chen2418502683
2175IMVaishali, RameshbabuW2448502663
2225GMJumabayev, Rinat2585502631
2335GMKaidanov, Gregory2554502620
2428GMVokhidov, Shamsiddin2578502618
2522GMVakhidov, Jakhongir2607502609
2630GMAditya, MittalU202572502602
2737IMMakarian, RudikU202548502598
288GMVan Foreest, Jorden2707502593
2927GMPranav, VU202579502584
3040GMFawzy, AdhamAr.2535502579
3150IMPrraneeth, VuppalaU202510502571
3215GMAryan, Chopra2634502569
3359GMAbdisalimov, Abdimalik2487502562
3441GMYilmazyerli, Mert2533502557
3514GMAravindh, Chithambaram Vr.2649502555
369GMNihal, SarinU202694502554
3754GMRaja, Rithvik RU202495502527
3810GMFedoseev, Vladimir2691502525
3942GMVignesh, N R2527502522
4049GMIniyan, P2510502463
4143GMKevlishvili, Robby25214.502609

Full standings

Qatar Masters | All Games Round 8

The 2023 Qatar Masters is a nine-round open tournament for players rated 2300+. It takes place in Lusail, Qatar, on October 11-20 and boasts a $108,250 prize fund with $25,000 for first place, as well as a $5,000 prize for the top female player.

Previous Coverage:

  • Round 7: Carlsen Gambles, Loses To India's Karthikeyan
  • Round 6: Carlsen Catches Nakamura In Qatar
  • Round 5: Gukesh, Giri Beaten; Narayanan In Sole Lead
  • Round 4: Carlsen Has Great Escape As Nakamura And Gukesh Join Leaders
  • Round 3: Nakamura, Giri Held As Carlsen Hits Back
  • Round 2: Carlsen Criticises Lack Of Anti-Cheating Measures After Stunning Defeat
  • Round 1: Carlsen, Nakamura Start Fast, Fedoseev Falls
  • Qatar Masters 2023 - All The Information

Colin McGourty

Colin McGourty led news at Chess24 from its launch until it merged with a decade later. An amateur player, he got into chess writing when he set up the website Chess in Translation after previously studying Slavic languages and literature in St. Andrews, Odesa, Oxford, and Krakow.

Qatar Masters Round 8: Advantage Arjun (2024)
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