Wijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands (PTI): World junior girls’ champion D Harika beat English Grandmaster David Howell while Abhijeet Gupta and K. Sasikiran suffered setbacks in the 10th round of the Corus chess tournament here.
Sasikiran went down to Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine in Group ‘B’ while Abhijeet lost to Anish Giri in a Group ‘C’ match.
Harika kept herself in contention for a GM-norm displaying fine attacking chess against Howell.
The Andhra girl, playing black in a Ruy Lopez opening, kept the Englishman under pressure and in his bid to force a spatial advantage, Howell blundered, allowing Harika to romp home in 48 moves. She is now tied for fourth place with 5.5 points in Group C.
Giving her company is compatriot Abhijeet, who suffered a jolt to Russian Giri, whose roots can be traced to India.
Abhijeet, playing black, blundered early against Giri in a Grunfeld defense game.
Giri managed to establish a minuscule advantage out of the opening and capitalised on a weak 15th move to reach a won middle game.
Abhijeet sacrifice two pieces for a rook but it did not fetch much compensation.
The win took Giri to six points and third place.
Grandmaster Tiger Hillarp Person of Sweden stayed on top with 7.5 points after beating Frank Holzke of Germany.
Top seed Wesley So of Philippines remained on his heels with seven points defeating Roeland Pruijessers of Holland.
Sasikiran seems to have hit a rough patch and is finding it difficult to extricate himself from it.
The loss to Efimenko has further dented his ratings and the top seed Indian is currently at the bottom of the pool in Group B with three points from 10 matches.
Sasikiran’s form deserted him again as Efimenko proved superior in a Nimzo Indian defense game. The Indian was on the receiving end in the middle game after missing a tactical sequence that left his king exposed.
Efimenko directed his pieces towards the kind side and launched an attack that saw him cruise home in 41 moves.
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– GM Susan Polgar