‘Caring Less’ Helps Arjun Erigaisi Continue Rise With Win In Armenia


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

Just over a week after Chess.com highlighted Arjun’s remarkable ascent to world number four, the Indian star once again proved that the format is irrelevant—he simply wins anyway. 

The field in Armenia included strong grandmasters ranked among the world’s top 50, but Arjun won four games and finished on an undefeated 6.5/9, a point and a half clear of GMs Sam Sevian, Amin Tabatabaei and Bogdan-Daniel Deac.

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

The triumph adds to Arjun’s impressive streak, earning him eight rating points, in addition to the ten points added in the French Team Championship. That means the 20-year-old is set to be rated 2778 on FIDE’s July list, positioning him behind only GMs Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, and Fabiano Caruana.

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

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

 —Arjun Erigaisi

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

“It obviously feels good and I have a pretty long break from classical. I’ll make sure to use this time to improve my game and do well when I get back in September,” he said. The Indian team for the Olympiad is set 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 rating points, dropping points only in the Sharjah Masters (1.2 points).

Arjun is currently on a streak of 25 classical games without a loss and will add 17 points on the July list. Source: 2700chess.com.

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

Surprised by the statistic that shows he is placed third, Arjun said: “Wow, I didn’t know about that! Caring less and less about the results really does seem to be helping!”

Caring less and less about the results really does seem to be helping!

 —Arjun Erigaisi

He recounted his only loss in a classical game this year, against GM Bu Xiangzhi in the Shenzhen Masters: “I was really frustrated for the next 30 minutes to one hour, but then I moved on and it had no effect on me for the next game. I went on to beat Anish Giri in a complicated game with Black!”

Arjun has consistently played events as the top seed this year, facing an average opposition of “only” 2630 in his 34 classical games in 2024. Nevertheless, he doesn’t feel he has actually taken any risks: “If I’m able to maintain my level consistently, I should be able to do well against the risks. I think any 2750+ player, if he plays at his level consistently, is capable of doing very well against sub-2650 opposition.”

His 2761 rating meant that he was the clear favorite in the 10-player round-robin event in Jermuk, but the field of grandmasters was by no means a pushover. In addition to Sevian, Tabatabaei, and Deac, Arjun also faced Armenia’s new generation of GMs Shant Sargsyan, Robert Hovhannisyan, Haik Martirosyan, and Manuel Petrosyan. Russia’s 17-year-old hope GM Volodar Murzin and Germany’s GM Mathias Bluebaum completed the field.

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

But India’s number-one made his intentions clear from the start as he shot out of the blocks with 2/2. He duly punished Sargsyan’s endgame mistake. The game is commented by Chess.com’s GM Rafael Leitao.

Arjun continued with three draws, but then ruined the excitement when he took Bluebaum’s king out for a walk in the park.

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

Deac’s single win in the tournament was short and sweet.

Although Arjun missed out on qualifiying for the previous world championship cycle, he remains a good contender to qualify for the 2026 Candidates, leading the FIDE Circuit ahead of GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

It’s worth noting that he already has six out of a potential seven results counted, while Abdusattorov only has four.

FIDE Circuit Standings per June 2024. Source: wcc.fide.com

Fans can look forward to seeing Arjun in action at the Leon Masters, a four-player rapid event in Spain with GMs Viswanathan Anand, Veselin Topalov, and Jaime Santos, from June 27 to July 1. Arjun also plans to participate in the World Rapid and Blitz Team Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan from August 1-6.





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