Isle of Man: Grandmaster D Harika got a creditable draw against highly regarded world number 12 Michael Adams of England in the eighth and penultimate round of Poker Masters Isle of Man chess tournament here on Sunday.
Playing solidly right through, Harika did not give any chance to Adams, rated more than 200 points higher, and the Englishman continued to struggle in the tournament. Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta however lost momentum and went down to Dutch GM Sergei Tiviakov to bow out of contention in the 18000 Pound Sterling tournament. After three successive wins, Gupta ran out of steam as he made an opening error in a French defense game and went down rather tamely.
David Howell of England continued with his dream run in the tournament and defeated second seed Maxime Vachier Lagrave of France. This was third straight victory for Howell against higher ranked opponents and firmly placed him on top along with compatriot Nigel Short who scored a vital victory as black against Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia.
Both Howell and Short have 6.5 points each with just one round to go. They are followed by Laurence Fressinet of France, Gil Popilski of Israel and Tiviakov who all are on six points.
Abhijeet, after the loss, remained on five points and Harika also inched herself up to the same score. While Gupta does not have any chance for a podium finish, Harika is the top contender for the women's prize. It was a well conducted game by Harika out of a Queen's Indian defense game as white. Adams won a sacrificed pawn early in the opening but Harika got sufficient piece play in return. Adams had to return the favour to get an easy game and finding no other way out, the former FIDE world championship finalist in knockout format, decided to equalise.
The pieces changed hands at regular intervals thereafter and the players soon reached a rook and opposite coloured Bishops endgame where draw was the only possibility. Harika signed the peace treaty after 38 moves.
Gupta was unlucky as he could not recollect the path to
equality as black against Tiviakov. Facing the French defense Tiviakov, formerly from Russia, opted for his pet Tarrasch variation and got advantage when Gupta did not spot a tactical sortie.