SPORT

Sasikiran humbles Jiangchuan as India `A' holds China

GM K. Sasikiran (standing) and his India `A' teammate Surya Sekhar Ganguly watch with keen interest as China's Ye Jiangchuan (left) ponders his move during their second round encounter. Sasikiran stunned the highest rated player in the competition, while Ganguly held Zhang Zhong as the teams played out a 2-2 draw.  

JODHPUR APRIL 9. For Sasikiran, more than the result, what matters is the quality of his play. Victory alone does not make him happy. Even when this 22-year-old finds a winning plan, he looks for perfection in execution. Perhaps, it is this quality that sets him apart.

On Wednesday, the recently-crowned Asian champion humbled China's most durable and consistent champion Ye Jiangchuan to help India `A' hold China 2-2. But Sasikiran was not particularly pleased with the way he won against the strongest player in the field.

Even as the Indian camp was feeling elated after delivering a psychological blow to the mighty Chinese, Sasikiran did some loud thinking soon after the 42-year-old Jiangchuan accepted defeat in 58 moves of their game which followed Sameisch variation of the King's Indian Defence.

``Perhaps, I missed something after gaining a pawn early in the game. Thereafter, there was a stage when things looked quite equal before I got a combination going,'' said Sasikiran referring to the position where he traded his rook for a bishop and a knight.

Even though Sasikiran forced the World number 20 to give up a rook for bishop to escape a check-mating net, the champion from Chennai wanted to win in a flawless manner.

Ye Jiangchuan is among the most respected players in China's chess history. He was part of the National team that won this event in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1991 and 1993 while playing on the top two boards. He has even coached China's first women's World champion Xie Jun. But on Wednesday, the most successful player in the championship suffered a rare loss.

This significant, if not truly spectacular, victory for Sasikiran came after Surya Sekhar Ganguly, playing black, held world No. 66, Zhang Zhong in 56 moves on the second board.

P. Hari Krishna needed only 26 moves to share the point with twice-Asian champion Xu Jun.

However, Dibyendu Barua's misjudgement in giving up a rook for bishop proved costly against Zhang Pengxiang on the fourth board.

Statistically, the average rating of this strongest possible Chinese team was 2632 against India's 2577. Man to man, Chinese players were stronger with the rating difference varying from 24 to 82 points.

Following this result, the India `A' team has sent a warning, loud and clear, to other contenders like current leader Vietnam as well as late-entrant and defending champion Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan, which arrived here on Tuesday evening, was awarded two points for the forfeited first round. Today, the all-GM Uzbek combination, led by World Cup runner-up Rustam Kasimdzhanov, was surprisingly held by an unheralded Turkmenistan.

India `B' men also post win

However, it was the 2.5-1.5 victory of India `B' over Kazakhstan which was pushed into the background following the outcome of the match between India `A' and China.

Neelotpal Das and Lanka Ravi made the most of playing with white pieces on the first and third boards while Dinesh Sharma drew on the last board. Sriram Jha's tame loss with black pieces to GM Pavel Kotsur did not come as a surprise.

Das, currently on a high after finishing sixth in the Asian championship and qualifying for the next World Championship, destroyed GM Darmen Sadvakasov. He gained two pawns in quick succession and clinched the issue in just 35 moves.

Lanka Ravi, keen to make amends for the loss suffered in the first round, outplayed fellow-IM Petr Kostenko in 47 moves.

Meanwhile, Vietnam remained ahead of the field with 6.5 points following an expected 2.5-1.5 victory over India `B'. Dao Thien Hai, playing black, proved too strong for Koneru Humpy on the top board.

Sandipan Chanda fought all the way before surrendering to Nguyen Anh Dung. R.B. Ramesh comfortably drew on the third board while Tejas Bakre took his time to nail To Quoc Khanh.

In the women's section, medal-contender Vietnam managed to take a point off hot favourite and leader China. After World champion Zhu Chen overpowered former Asian champion Hoang Thanh Trang and World Cup winner Xu Yuhua took care of Nguyen Thi Than, Vietnam pulled one back. Le Kiev Thien Kim prevented a clean sweep at the expense of Wang Yu.

The match between India `A' and India `B' proved a damp squib. The top-board game between S. Vijayalakshmi and S. Meenakshi ended in friendly draw lasting just seven moves.

Nisha Mohota fought harder and longer against her LIC-colleague Swati Ghate before settling for a draw. The decisive twist came from the last board where D. Harika outwitted five-time former National champion Bhagyashree Thipsay in what was clearly a `battle of generations'.

For the second successive day, India `C' was involved in a 1.5-1.5 result, this time, against Kazakhstan.

The women from Iran kept pace with their men on this day. While the Iranian men were busy putting the finishing touches to a 4-0 drubbing of Kyrgyzstan, the women blanked Sri Lanka 3-0.

The results (second round):

Men section:

Vietnam (6.5) bt India `B' (5) 2.5-1.5 (Dao Thien Hai bt Koneru Humpy; Nguyen Anh Dung bt Sandipan Chanda; Tu Hoang Thong drew with R. B. Ramesh; To Quoc Khanh lost to Tejas Bakre).

India `C' (6) bt Kazakhstan (4.5) 2.5-1.5 (Neelotpal Das bt Darman Sadvakasov; Sriram Jha lost to Pavel Kotsur; Lanka Ravi bt Petr Kostenko; Dinesh Sharma drew with Nurlan Ibrayev).

India `A' (5) drew with China (4.5) 2-2 (K. Sasikiran bt Ye Jiangchaun; Surya Sekhar Ganguly drew with Zhang Zhong; P. Hari Krishna drew with Xu Jun; Dibyendu Barua lost to Zhang Pengxiang).

Turkmenistan (3.5) drew with Uzbekistan (4) 2-2 (Amanmurat Kakgeldiev drew with Rustam Kasimdzhanov; Meylis Annaberdeiv lost to Saydali Yuldashev; Artyk Ovezov drew with Shukhrat Safin; Hadjar Odeev bt Marat Dzhumaev).

Iran (5) bt Kyrgyzstan (1) 4-0 (Ehsan Ghaem Meghami bt Milan Turpanov; Morteza Mahjoob bt Talaybek Imanavliev; Ghani Darbanvai bt Algis Shukuraliev; Arash Roghani bt Natan Zilberman).

Malaysia (4) bt Macau (1) 3.5-0.5 (Wong Zi Jing bt Soloman Celis; Marcus Chan bt Chang Hon Kun; Nicolas Chan drew with Mak Keng Kei; Ismail Ahmed bt Abelgas Rodolfo).

Sri Lanka (0) bye.

Women's section:

China (5) bt Vietnam (4) 2-1 (Zhu Chen bt Hoang Thanh Trang; Xu Yuhua bt Nguyen Thi Than; Wang Yu lost to Le Kiev Thien Kim).

India `A' (4.5) bt India `B' (4) 2-1 (S. Vijayalakshmi drew with S. Meenakshi; Nisha Mohota drew with Swati Ghate; D. Harika bt Bhagyashree Thipsay).

Kazakshtan (3.5) drew with India `C' (3) 1.5-1.5 (Alfiya Turebayeva drew with Eesha Karavade; Aigul Imanbaeva bt Saheli Dhar-Barua; Assya Son lost to Anupama Gokhale).

Iran (4.5) bt Sri Lanka (1) 3-0 (Atousa Pourkashian bt Vineetha Wijesuriya; Shadi Paridar bt Ayodhya Liyanagedara; Mona Sahmanmahini bt Thushari Mahawaththa).

Kyrgyzstan (2) bt Malaysia (1) 2-1 (Irina Ostry lost to Siti Zulaikha; Aleksandra Samaganova bt Lim Han Ying; Janyl Tilenbaeva bt Haslindah Ruslan).