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Stiff tests await Harikrishna on opening day

P. Harikrishna.

P. Harikrishna.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

Third leg of million-dollar Carlsen tour begins today

The presence of Grandmaster P. Harikrishna is sure to cause a major spike in Indian interest in the million-dollar Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour that continues with the $150,000 Chessable Masters on Saturday.

Hari, the first Indian on the Tour, is part of a 12-player field that includes the world’s top six — Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Fabiano Caruana (USA), Ding Liren (China), Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) and Alexander Grishcuk (Russia) — on the classical format ranking list.

Following the decision to tweak the league phase of the Tour’s third leg, by dividing the field into two groups of six players each, Hari finds himself in the tougher one.

On Saturday, Hari starts with black against Russia's Vladislav Artemiev and follows alternate colours against Carlsen, Russia's Daniil Dubov, USA's Hikaru Nakamura and Russia's Grischuk.

After Sunday’s rest, Hari plays the same rivals with opposite colours. It is pertinent to note, Carlsen and Dubov won the first two legs at the expense of Nakamura.

The other group includes Caruana, Liren, Nepomniachtchi, Lagrave, Teimour Radjabov and Anish Giri.

Four players from each group advance to the quarterfinals.

Hari told The Hindu, “My approach remains the same whether I start as favourite or underdog. Pressure is a good motivation to have. In fact, I have not played as many rapid and blitz events as the other guys (in the field). Luckily, I played Grand Chess Tour events in Kolkata, the last two years, and the World rapid and blitz championships, which have given me a lot of confidence.

“My rating is lower in rapid but I think, I’m better than my rating in rapid, in general, than blitz. It’s also quite different playing online and over-the-board events.”

Good run

Reflecting on his runner-up finish in a strong World Stars Sharjah Online field earlier this week, Hari said, “I didn’t start well but scored four-and-a-half points out of five from Rounds 5 to 9. So, I’m quite happy I could win so many games in a row in a strong event. Now I’m confident of doing well.”

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 9:02:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/stiff-tests-await-harikrishna-on-opening-day/article31873011.ece

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