Gopal beats Speelman, joint third now in Gibraltar Chess

Gibraltar: Grandmaster G N Gopal put it
across Jon Speelman of England and jumped to the joint third
spot after the end of the ninth and penultimate round of the
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess festival here.

The victory, coming with black pieces put Gopal in a good
position in the 1,26,000 prize money event as the Indian will
take on Salome Melia of Georgia in the final round with white

Meanwhile, it continued to be a two-way race for the
title as top seeded Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk showcased his
superior understanding to beat young GM Fabianoa Caruana of
Italy to remain at the helm with a remarkable eight points out
of a possible nine.

Ivanchuk continued to enjoy a half point lead over Nigel
Short of England who also won a fine game against Victor
Mikhalevsky of Israel.

It`s a 10-way tie for the third spot on 6.5 points and
besides Gopal, Harikrishna is the other Indian in contention
for a podium finish. In the ninth round game, Harikrishna was
held to a draw by Melia.

Among other Indians in the fray, top-rated Indian
Krishnan Sasikiran played out a draw with Daniel Fridman of
Germany while Deep Sengupta achieved the same result against
Vyacheslav Ikonikov of Russia.

The lone Indian GM to face a defeat was Sandipan Chanda
who went down to Spanish Alexis Cabrera and D Harika did well
to hold GM Girogi Kacheishvili of Georgia to a draw.

Attaining good results towards the end of the tournament
were Arghyadip Das who outwitted Ruben Felgaer of Argentina,
Vaibhav Suri who won as black against Garcia Jimenez Francisco
Javie of Spain and Eesha Karavade, who proved too good against
Thomas Becker of Germany.

Sasikiran, Sengupta, Das and Harika are tied for the 13th
spot on having six points apiece.

Gopal was in his elements against Speelman in an
irregular queen pawn game. Playing white, Speelman fought hard
for an opening advantage but Gopal was well on his guard and
when the English went for a positional exchange sacrifice it
all turned out to be a wild game.

Gopal methodically placed his pieces on the correct
squares and wise declined a second exchange sacrifice by
Speelman before reaching a winning endgame. Speelman resigned
after 53 moves.

Harikrishna could not break the ice against solid play by
Melia who played white. The Indian reached a rook and pawns
endgame with some chances for a victory but Melia played good
defensive moves to restore parity.

There was a second power cut in the tournament that
lasted for around 45 minutes. The venue for the remaining
games by then had shifted to the commentary rooms.


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