AAI Grandmaster Chess Tournament – Round Four

Caruana maintains the lead, mixed luck for India

New Delhi, June 25: It was mixed luck for the Indian fans as Krishnan Sasikiran won his second successive game but National champion Parimarjan Negi lost his game in the fourth round of the inaugural AAI Grandmasters Chess Championships at the AAI Officer’s Institute on Saturday.

For the second day running Sasi played out a marathon game before beating Hou Yifan to haul himself back into the tournament. But before that Negi lost to the higher rated Viktor Laznicka. In the first game to finish on Saturday, leader Fabiano Caruana drew with Filipino Wesley So in 32 moves.

After four rounds, Caruana remained as the only unbeaten player. He leads the six-player field with 3.5 points, while Laznicka, who bounced back from his third round loss to Sasi on Friday, has three points. Sasikiran and Wesley So have two each, Negi 1.5 and Hou Yifan is yet to open her account as the tournament continued to be a miserable one for women’s world champion lost her fourth game in a row.

AAI r4 Chief Arbiter MS Gopakumar

Chief Arbiter MS Gopakumar, IA welcoming Caruana for the fourth round

Sasikiran and Hou Yifan were engaged in a Catalan Classical that lasted 62 moves. Sasi looked like winning way ahead, but mistakes from either side prolonged the game, though in the end the Indian benefitted from Hou’s monumental blunder on 36th.

“At some point I think Rd1 was a mistake, probably a big blunder, and she may have been better at that stage. But she allowed me to get away and on the 36th, she played Nc5, which was a big mistake from her. After I got g4 (43rd) move I think I was winning,” said Sasi. “That was a lease of life, because I came down from a very good position to a poor one with my mistake.”

“Anyway it is good to get a second successive win. Now that brings me to 50 % at this stage,” he added.

The Laznicka-Negi battle was in the Queen’s Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, where both players admitted to having made a few mistakes. “My opponent surprised me in the opening and I had not prepared for this line, even though I have seen it. I spent a lot of time on. It was a sharp game and towards the end he (Negi) made some mistakes. Though I won, I did not get a very good feeling about the game,” said Viktor Laznicka, for whom this was his third win in four games. “I think I was tired and not concentrating, but it is always good to get a win.”

AAI r4 Sasi and Hou shaking hands

Sasikiran and Hou Yifan shaking hands before the match

Parimarjan Negi said he felt he had draw chances before he overlooked Laznicka’s 51st move Qf6. “That was something I overlooked and from there on I lost. It was a sharp game,” he added.

Playing against Caruana the Filipino Wesley So confessed to being still disappointed with his second round loss to Laznicka.

In a Guico Piano battle, also called the Italian, leader Caruana drew in 32 moves against Filipino Wesley So. That helped him keep his nose ahead in the 10-round double round-robin game.

Caruana finally had his winning streak halted. “It had to end sometime. But I am happy with this game as I got a draw with black and Wesley is a good player. Anyway with 3.5 in four games is a good start,” said Caruana. “Today there was not much in the game for both of us, so a draw is fine.”

Wesley has already played three of his games with white and lost one, which is bothering him a bit. He said, “I have been a bit upset about my loss to Laznicka. I should have done better. Usually I don’t let losses bother me, but this has been different. And then in third round, I was expecting to win with white. Overall I was expecting to be better than 50 per cent after four rounds.”

The smiling So also added, “Initially I thought I was playing Hou Yifan in fourth round, but was later told that it was Caruana. But anyway I don’t have to plan for Hou in fifth round on Sunday.”

Late last night, Sasikiran, who had lost his first two games, played white in a Catalan Opening and held an advantage over Laznicka for most of the game. The Czech player put up a spirited defense and hung in there for a long time, but once he opened his position he seemed to be creating weaknesses for himself. Then into the third time control, Laznicka finally resigned and gave the Indian a well-deserved win.

“It is good to score a win finally. In the last game I thought I had a chance but allowed it to get away and lost. Today I knew I had the edge and was able to get that full point,” said the ONGC officer Sasi.

The games in the fourth round were inaugurated by Mr. DV Sundar, the current Secretary of the All India Chess Federation.

AAI r4 Shri. D V Sundar

Shri. D V Sundar, FIDE Vice President & Secretary AICF interacting with World Women Champion Hou Yifan

Points after four rounds:

3.5 points – Caruana

3 – Laznicka

2 – Wesley So, Sasikiran

1.5 – Negi

0 – Yifan

Results of fourth round: Viktor Laznicka beat Parimarjan Negi; Krishnan Sasikiran beat Hou Yifan; Wesley So drew with Fabiano Caruana

Draw for fifth Round: F Caruana v V Laznicka; Negi P v K Sasikiran; Hou Yifan v W So

AAI r4 Sports Reporters

Sports Reporters listening carefully to Negi and Laznicka

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