Harikrishna, Negi goes down fighting in World Chess Cup
Khanty Mansiysk (Russia): Grandmaster and reigning Asian champion P Harikrishna went down fighting to Dmitry Jakovenko of Russia, while Grandmaster Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan had it easy against Parimarjan Negi in the first game of the second round of World Chess Cup.
Former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta was the lone Indian survivor in the first game of the round of 64 after he conceded an easy draw to giant killer Samuel Shankland of United States.
The second game in the two-game mini-match will be played on Thursday with Negi and Harikrishna in desperate need of an equalizer to take the match into tiebreak games of shorter duration.
While the opening round had big upsets, the first game of the second round was more on expected lines for the big guns.
Top seed Ukrainian turned Russian Sergey Karjakin was held to a draw by Philippines` Wesley So in a keenly-contested game where the former played white.
Marcia-Emelian Parligras of Romania was the biggest gainer of the day as he won a tough game against higher-ranked Hungarian Zoltan Almasi.
After knocking out Chinese Yu Yangyi in the first round, Parligras is now on the verge of another upset victory.
Harikrishna looked set for a draw in the endgame arising out of a Queen`s gambit accepted by transposition against Jakovenko. The opening gave Harikrishna an optical advantage but Jakovenko was apparently well-armed as he made his moves at much quicker pace and even a piece sacrifice by the highest rated Indian here did not deter him much.
Harikrishna recovered the sacrificed piece with imaginative display and the resulting endgame should have been an easy draw. However, as things turned out, an erroneous plan by Harikrishna led to a difficult position soon after the first time control and Jakovenko increased his advantage to win in 61 moves.
Negi faced the Reti opening by seventh seed Radjabov and was saddled with a slightly passive position in the early stages of the middle game. Radjabov played some thematic moves to get a central bind and Negi`s 19th move gave white a strong positional advantage.
With the clock ticking away, Radjabov found a clear path to victory after he gobbled a pawn and Negi called it a day when faced with further material loss. The game lasted 42 moves.
Abhijeet Gupta could not get much with his white pieces against Shankland who had ousted Hungarian Peter Leko in the first round.
Showing better preparation, Shankland equalized with his Slav defense very early and Abhijeet, sensing there was little to play for, offered the draw in a mere 15 moves which was accepted by Shankland.
The World Chess Cup started with 128 players with a 1.6 million USD prize fund. The knockout event is also a part of the next world championship cycle for which top three will qualify from.
There are two games in each round and in the event of a tie, games of rapid, blitz and finally Armageddon are played to determine the winner.