Harikrishna demolishes Sasikiran

HYDERABAD, JULY 20. The big smile on Nageswara Rao's face said it all as his son Pendyala Harikrishna conquered GM K. Sasikiran in a fifth round game in the Wipro International Grandmasters chess tournament at Hotel Taj Residency here on Thursday.

In a Reti opening Sasikiran's game became passive once he faltered by playing f4 on the 18th move instead of the bishop c1. Harikrishna, the youngest International Master, was quick to pounce upon the chance and attacked relentlessly. On a day when various cricketer's residences were being raided, it was a raid of a different kind as Harikrishna literally demolished any chance his opponent had with a masterly display in the middle and endgames.

Harikrishna pointed out that Sasikiran made another mistake on move 20 by playing the knight c5. This gave Harikrishna's pieces plenty of freedom. After that it was only a matter of time before he completed victory. In the quick exchanges it was Harikrishna who had material and tactical advantage as he gave up two rooks for a queen and a knight. This dealt a severe blow to Sasikiran and he had to quite after 52 moves. This was Harikrishna's first win after three consecutive draws in his four games so far.

IM Surya Sekhar Ganguly scored a creditable win over GM Abhijit Kunte in 31 moves. In a Ruy Lopez opening Kunte was under some pressure very early on as Ganguly opened with a Be5 line which experts felt was a dubious theoretical line. But it proved right for Ganguly as this line of attack saw Kunte's rooks bottled up trying to protect the `d5' pawn in the centre. Interestingly Ganguly offered a draw on the 24th move which the latter refused. Not only that he also made a couple of serious mistakes.

``All his three moves 21st - Nh4, 22nd - Rd3, 23rd - Rd4 allowed me to gain an upperhand,'' anaylsed Ganguly later.

Then came the real big blunder from the GM when he played Qg3 thus missing a pawn in the centre. Peeved at the situation Kunte offered a draw which Ganguly predictably refused and continued the battle as he was clearly up both materially and tactically. With Kunte playing badly in the endgame Ganguly wrapped it when the former resigned when he sighted a checkmate.

GM-norm holder D.V. Prasad was engaged in another draw with GM Maxim Sorokin of Argentina. To the Argentine's Sicilian Paulsen variation, the Indian replied with Maroczy Bind and tried for a kingside attack. But Sorokin quickly spotted it and made a timely queen manouevre - Qa5 to Qh5. ``I had never seen such a manouevre as I myself love this line of variation,'' confessed Prasad.

Then in a tactical skirmish, Sorokin offered a queen exchange with the queen on e2 square. This put Prasad in a dilemma. For if he had to play the middle-game, he needed the queen. Then Prasad played a4 with the clear intention of making a headway.

But much to his surprise Sorokin came with an unexpected a5 move which locked it completely. The two then agreed for a draw after 15 moves. During their post-game analysis, Sorokin told Prasad that he should not have played f4 and then b3. ``He felt that it should be b3 and then f4 for better manouevring,'' Prasad revealed.

IWM S. Vijayalakshmi was locked in a 50-move draw with GM Sergey Ionov in an English opening reverse Sicilian variation. It was a contest where position changed quite frequently before the latter frittered away a clear chance. Ionov gave a temporary exchange sacrifice and won back beautifully attacking Vijayalakshmi's king. Both slipped into time scramble where they completed 44 moves in a hurry before realising the time control was over.

Later Ionov gave a stunning piece sacrifice and seemed to be in a position to clinch the issue. But the Indian girl, aspiring to be the first WGM from the country, came up with the right moves. She was also helped by Ionov's tactical error by playing Re1 on the 38th move. ``Re2 could have been better for him,'' she opined.

Top-seed GM Evgeny Vladimirov and GM Alexander Fominyh were involved in a friendly draw of eight moves which has become quite a familiar sight featuring Russians in Indian tournaments.

The results (fifth round): Sandipan Chanda (2.5) bye; K. Sasikiran (2) lost to P. Harikrishna (2.5); Aarthie Ramaswamy (0.5) bye; D.V. Prasad (3) drew with Maxim Sorokin (3); Abhijit Kunte (1.5) lost to S.S. Ganguly (2); S. Vijayalakshmi (1.5) drew with Ionov (1.5); Alexander Fominyh (2.5) drew with Evgeny Vladimirov (3.5).

Friday's pairings: Vladimirov bye; Ionov vs Alexander Fominyh; S.S. Ganguly vs Vijayalakshmi; Sorokin vs Abhijit Kunte; D.V. Prasad bye; Harikrishna vs Aarthie Ramaswamy; Sandipan Chanda vs Sasikiran.