Abhijeet finishes joint first, Harika gets second GM norm

Abhijeet Gupta agreed for a quick draw with overnight joint leader Adam Tukhaev of Ukraine to tie for the first place in the Kavala International Open Chess tournament here.

Kavala: Former world junior champion Indian Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta agreed for a quick draw with overnight joint leader Adam Tukhaev of Ukraine to tie for the first place in the Kavala International Open Chess tournament here.

There was more good news for the Indians in the fray as Dronavalli Harika held Grandmaster Andrey Rychagov of Russia to a hard-fought draw in the concluding round and achieved her second Grandmaster norm.

Harika now needs one more norm before she becomes the second Indian girl after Koneru Humpy to get the Grandmaster title. S Vijayalakshmi is the other Indian woman, who has completed her Grandmaster norms but not been a very active player in the past few years.

Abhijeet just did the needful during the match.

Playing the black side of his reliable Berlin defence, he had a chance if Tukhaev wanted to fight for a win but the Ukrainian showed his peaceful intentions early.

The match lasted a mere five minutes and as if taking a cue from the top board game, Nidjat Mamedov of Azerbaijan followed suit against Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia, while an all-Armenian duel between Hrant Melkumyan and Zaven Andriasian also reached the same result.

Thus, in the end it was a two-way tie for the top spot with Abhijeet and Tukhaev locked on seven points apiece. The first tie-break based on progressive score was equal but in the second tie-break based on opponents’ score in the event, Abhijeet came only second.

However, the cash prize was equally divided.

Abhijeet was a class act in the tournament winning five and drawing four games. All his draws came with black pieces and three of those were almost effortless. The white pieces proved pivotal as Abhijeet won all the five games with what is regarded as the favourable colour in the game.

The icing on the cake for the BPCL employee was an increase in the ELO rating, which currently takes him past the 2600 mark for the first time in his career.

“This tournament went really on expectations after I won my game against Vorobiov in the seventh round. Rychagov lost to me under pressure and Adam (Tukhaev) did not want undue risk which is normal in last round of a tournament like this,” observed Abhijeet.

“Of course getting to 2600 was equally important for me, I have been around it for some time and this time I was almost hoping that I will breach the mark, hopefully the trend will continue in the next tournament at Chalkida in a couple of days time,” he added.

Meanwhile, after a brilliant start Grandmaster Tejas Bakre could only finish with a half point from the last two rounds but was still the second best performing Indian after Abhijeet.

Tejas, with six points in his kitty finished ninth overall.

Harika was all smile after taking a much needed draw. Rychagov initially refused the draw and was seen pressing for an advantage in the King’s Indian defence game by Harika, who had to come up with some resourceful play to salvage the half point.

“I have learnt through experience that it is never easy to draw when you need to, I was just trying to find the best moves to keep his attack in check and he finally allowed to liquidate in to a drawn endgame,” Harika said after the game.

Among other Indians in the fray, Vishnu Prasanna lost in the final round but still managed to make his International Master norm. Vishnu now hopes to cross the 2400 ElO rating mark to get the confirmation of the title.

IM Sahaj Grover again misplayed a won position and had to sign a peace deal with Pap Mesa of Serbia. Sahaj had to be content with the best under-16 player prize and around 15 ElO rating points from the tournament.


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