SPORT

Ganguly in hot pursuit of final GM norm

Pardubice (Czech Republic) July 26. Double Grandmaster norm holder S.S. Ganguly technically outplayed GM Espig Lutz of Germany to move closer in pursuit of his final GM norm in the Czech Grandmaster open chess tournament here on Friday.

Third seed GM Zbynek Hracek added another twist in the tournament tale by defeating overnight leader GM Vladislav Borovikov of Ukraine to emerge as the new sole leader on 6 points after the end of the seventh round.

A pack of 15 hopefuls including Ganguly are following the leader with 5.5 points each while top seed GM K. Sasikiran and GM P. Harikrishna are among the next lot with 18 others.

Ganguly was in his element in scalping Lutz. Playing white, the German got a neo Grunfeld Indian defence by transposition that has been Ganguly's cup of tea in the past few years. The Kolkata-based 22-year-old equalised comfortably in the ensuing middlegame and strove hard for an advantage as Lutz went for an ambitious plan and surrendered the Bishop pair in an open position and gave Ganguly a dangerous passed pawn in the centre of the board.

After the exchange of heavy pieces, the players arrived at a Bishop versus Knight endgame with Lutz hoping for a miracle that did not happen.

In copybook fashion, Ganguly marched his king to the mid of the board and at the same time contained white from making a decisive advance of his pawns on the kingside. Lutz tried a few tricks towards the end but Ganguly tackled everything to perfection to romp home after 49 moves.

Sasikiran realised that being the top seed in a strong open tournament is not fun really as almost everyone is happy to draw with him. Fitting the bill was GM Marek Vokac of the Czech Republic.

In a Grunfeld Indian defence opening, Sasikiran, black, faced some difficulties in the initial phase of the game.

However, as dust settled in the late middlegame, too many pieces were exchanged to guarantee any worthwhile advantage to Vokac. The draw was agreed to in 50 moves.

Harikrishna drew with GM Vladimir Potkin of Russia. It was a Tarrasch defence where Harikrishna did not get much of an advantage and settled for sharing the point after 33 moves.

Sandipan Chanda's GM norm aspirations suffered a setback as he went down to GM Lev Psakhis of Israel. The age old Keres attack against the Sicilian Scheveningen did the trick for Psakhis as Sandipan found himself struggling in the resulting endgame. Once a second of Kasparov, Psakhis made no mistakes to win in 59 moves.

Dibyendu Barua was held to a draw by Sergei Berezjuk of Czech Republic and bowed out of contention for top prizes.

Indian women players had a reasonable day with all of them drawing against higher rated rivals.

Important results: round 7 (Indians unless specified): Zbynek Hracek (6, Cze) bt Vladislav Borovikov (5.5, Ukr); Valery Neverov (5.5, Ukr) drew Petr Haba (5.5, Cze); Dmitry Jakovenko (5.5, Rus) drew Davit Arutunian (5.5, Geo); Marek Vokac (5, Cze) drew Krishnan Sasikiran (5) Timur Balabaev (4.5, Kaz) lost to Macieja Bartlomiej (5.5, Pol); Daniels Fridmans (5, Lat) drew Murey Jacob (5, Isr); Jan Markos (5, Svk) drew Vladimir Burmakin (5, Rus); Lev Psakhis (5.5, Isr) bt Sandipan Chanda (4.5); P Harikrishna (5) drew Vladimir Potkin (5, Rus); Peter Acs (5.5, Hun) bt Mathias Womacka (4.5, Ger); Stocek Jiri (4.5, Cze) lost to Zilberman Yaacov (5.5, Isr); Ernesto Inarkiev (5.5, Rus) bt Arturs Neiksans (4.5, Lat); Philipp Schlosser (5.5, Ger) bt Stefan Kristjansson (4.5, Isl); Janis Klovans (4.5, Lat) lost to Evgeny Shaposhnikov (5.5, Rus); Espig Lutz (4.5, Ger) lost to S S Ganguly (5.5); Emanuel Berg (5.5, Swe) bt Lingnau Carsten (4.5, Ger); Alexander Moroz (5.5, Ukr) bt Anthony Wirig (4.5, Fra); Kantorik Marian (4.5, Svk) lost to Zoltan Gyimesi (5, Hun); Sergei Berezjuk (4.5, Cze) drew Dibyendu Barua (4.5); V Saravanan (4) lost to Roiz Michael (5, Isr); Jozef Michenka (4, Cze) lost to Abhijit Kunte (5, Ind), Alexander Panchenko (3.5, Rus) drew Bagyashree Thipsay (3.5); Swati Ghate (3) drew Iulia Mashinskaya (3, Rus); Markus Balduan (3, Ger) drew Tania Sachdev (3); Igor Merezhko (2.5, Rus) drew Saheli Barua (2.5); Himanshu Kumar (1.5) drew Kajan Milan (1, Svk).

PTI

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