“Caring Less” helps Arjun Erigaisi continue his progress with victory in Armenia

General manager Arjun Erigais once again, he proved himself unstoppable by dominating the Stepan Avagyan Memorial 2024 which took place in Jermuk, Armenia, from June 10 to 18. New research shows only two players can match his meteoric rise to the world’s elite, but the 20-year-old Indian says he has stopped paying attention to ratings and rankings.

Just over a week after Chess.com highlighted Arjun’s remarkable performance rise to world number fourthe Indian star proved once again that the format doesn’t matter: he wins anyway.

The field in Armenia included some strong grandmasters ranked in the world’s top 50, but Arjun won four matches and finished with an undefeated 6.5/9, a point and a half ahead of the GMs. Sam Sevian, Amin Tabatabaei And Bogdan-Daniel Déac.

Arjun Erigaisi was 1.5 points ahead of his nearest rival.
Arjun Erigaisi was 1.5 points ahead of his nearest rival.

This triumph adds to Arjun’s impressive streak, earning him eight ranking points, in addition to the ten points added in the French Team Championship. This means the 20-year-old is expected to be ranked 2778 on FIDE’s July list, placing him behind only general managers. Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru NakamuraAnd Fabiano Caruana.

Speaking to Chess.com, Arjun shared with a smile: “To be honest, I have stopped caring about scores and rankings. I don’t really care about being in the top five either.”

To be honest, I stopped caring about grades and rankings. I don’t really care about being in the top five either.

—Arjun Erigais

The Indian described his victory in his second tournament of the year as “nice” and mentioned that he is now taking a break from classical chess until the Chess Olympiad 2024which begins in Budapest, Hungary on September 11.

“It obviously feels good and I have quite a long break from the classic. I will make sure I use this time to improve my game and do well when I return in September,” he said. The Indian team for the Olympiad is expected to be announced next week and Arjun’s inclusion is expected.

The 20-year-old’s rise over the past year has been nothing short of extraordinary. In 12 of his last 13 tournaments, he gained points in the rankings, only losing points at the Sharjah Masters (1.2 points).

Arjun is currently on a 25 match unbeaten streak and will add 17 points to the July list. Source: 2700chess.com.

According to Chess.com research, only two players above 2700 can match Arjun’s 68-point increase in 12 months. In 2015/16 AGM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave gained 88 points to go from 2731 to 2819, while 17-year-old Carlsen jumped 72 points from 2714 to 2786 in 2007/8.

Surprised by the statistics that showed him being ranked third, Arjun said, “Wow, I didn’t know that! Worrying less and less about results really seems to help!”

Worrying less and less about results really seems to help!

—Arjun Erigais

He told his only loss in a classic game this year, against GM Bu Xiangzhi in the Masters of Shenzhen: “I was really frustrated for the next 30 minutes to an hour, but then I moved on and it had no effect on me for the next match. I kept fighting Anish Giri in a complicated game with black!”

Arjun has regularly played events as a top seed this year, facing average opposition of “only” 2630 in his 34 classic matches in 2024. Still, he doesn’t feel like he’s really taken any risks : “If I’m able to maintain my level consistently, I should be able to do well against risks. I think any 2750+ player, if they play consistently at their level, is able to do very well against an opposition of less than 2650.”

His rating of 2761 meant he was the clear favorite in the 10-player round robin at Jermuk, but the grandmaster field was by no means a breeze. In addition to Sevian, Tabatabaei and Deac, Arjun also faced the new generation of Armenian general managers. Sargsyan Song, Robert Hovhannisian, Haik MartirossianAnd Manuel Petrosian. The 17-year-old Russian hopeful general manager Volodar Murzin and the German general manager Mathias Bluebaum completed the field.

Erigaisi won his fourth match against Bluebaum in round 7. Photo: Armenian Chess Federation
Arjun against one of his closest pursuers, Deac. Photo: Armenian Chess Federation.

But the Indian number one made his intentions clear from the start by coming out of the blocks with 2/2. He duly punished Sargsyan’s mistake late in the game. The game is commentated by the general director of Chess.com Rafael Leitao.

Arjun continued with three draws, but then spoiled the excitement when he took the King of Bluebaum for a walk in the park.

The event had a high draw rate of 78 percent, and Martirosyan was the only other player capable of winning more than one match. Chess statistician Mehmet Ismali noted in an article on his X/Twitter account that Deac was the most accurate player in the event based on his Missed Points Index, which is a measure of the points a player misses in a game according to the engine. The Romanian averaged 0.05 missed points per game. In comparison, Arjun missed an average of 0.20 points per game, like Carlsen and Nakamura in recent tournaments, indicating that his strategic risks paid off.

Deac’s lone victory in the tournament was short and sweet.

Although Arjun missed qualifying for the previous world championship cycle, he remains a strong contender to qualify for the 2026 candidates, leading the FIDE circuit ahead of GM. Nodirbek Abdusattarov.

It is worth noting that he already has six out of seven potential results, while Abdusattorov only has four.

FIDE circuit ranking in June 2024. Source: wcc.fide.com

Fans can expect to see Arjun in action at the Leon Masters, a four-player fast-paced event in Spain featuring GMs. Viswanathan Anand, Veseline TopalovAnd Jaime Santosfrom June 27 to July 1. Arjun also plans to compete in the World Rapid and Blitz Team Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan from August 1-6.

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