Harikrishna and Vidit march forward in FIDE World Cup; Nihal to play tie-breaker

The tie-breaks of the first Round of the FIDE World Cup were played on September 12. At the start of the day, five Indians — SL Narayanan, SP Sethuraman, Surya Shekar Ganguly, Abhijeet Gupta and Aravindh Chithambaram — were in contention for the second round, but had to survive the tie-breakers. For Sethuraman and SL Narayanan the first set of tie-breakers signaled the end of their run.

Aravindh Chithambaram scored an impressive 4.5-3.5 victory over British grandmaster Michael Adams to join the four Indians in the second round of the tournament.

Abhijeet Gupta began with a win over Anton Korobov with black pieces in the first rapid game but then lost the next three to be knocked out in the first round.  Surya Shekhar Ganguly managed to prolong the first round tie to third and fourth rapid games after drawing the first two but lost both of them against Vladimir Fedoseev. In the other matches,  SP Sethuraman lost both his rapid games against Tamir Nabaty while SL Narayanan could not avoid a loss with black pieces in the second game after he was held to a draw by  David Anton Guijarro.

After the third day the Indian contingent at the event has been halved to five. Aravindh Chithambaram joined P. Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi, B Adhiban and Nihal Sarin in the second round of the seven-round knockout competition.

In the first game of the second round, Nihal Sarin scored a sparkling win over Azeri Eltaj Safarli. However, the second game of the second round proved to be a heart-breaking loss for 15-year-old as a mistake in the middle game cost him a point and forced a decider against GM Eltaj Safarli.

Needing just a draw after winning the opening game, Nihal had done well to counter Safarli’s Evans Gambit but made a mistake that cost him his bishop and ultimately the game in 37 moves and will have to play the tie-break on Sunday.

Harikrishna maintained his superb form as he reached 3rd round. He became the first Indian to advance to the third round after drawing in 60 moves against Russia’s Vladimir Fedoseev in Game Two of the second round. Since Hari won their first game on Friday, he was declared winner by 1.5-0.5.

Vidit Gujrathi came up with a strong performance with black pieces to defeat Aleksandr Rakhmanov and join P Harikrishna in the third round. Vidit plays Wesley So in the third round.

Adhibhan Baskaran will also need the tie-break route to third round after drawing the second game as well against GM Yangyi Yu.

Aravindh Chithambaram was knocked out of the tournament after he could manage just a draw against GM Evgeny Tomashevsky in the second game, having lost the first.