AICF World Cup Qualifier: Gukesh stuns Ganguly, leads jointly with Rithvik

On a day when 18-year old GM P. Iniyan punished an off-colour B. Adhiban in the second round, none of the top four seeds played to their seedings.

Grandmaster D. Gukesh jolted Surya Shekhar Ganguly to join International Master R. Raja Rithvik in the lead on Wednesday.   -  m. vedhan

Teenagers called the shots as Grandmaster D. Gukesh jolted Surya Shekhar Ganguly to join International Master R. Raja Rithvik in the lead with three straight victories on the opening day of the AICF World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.

On a day when 18-year old GM P. Iniyan punished an off-colour B. Adhiban in the second round, none of the top four seeds played to their seedings. With plenty of opportunities left in the 17-round competition, the comeback of the leading names cannot be ruled out.

Gukesh, 14, warmed up with wins over Rahul Singhania and C. R. G. Krishna before checkmating Ganguly in a topsy-turvy battle. Playing white, Ganguly sacrificed a knight for initiative but Gukesh defended well. Soon thereafter, Gukesh blundered away the knight to give Ganguly the edge. With both players under severe time-pressure, Ganguly overlooked a checkmating net and lost in 54 moves.

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Rithvik, 17, started the day by nailing GM Vishnu Prasanna, who suffered two more defeats. Rithvik went on to beat Rahul Singhania and C. R. G. Krishna for a hat-trick of wins. The going is expected to be tough for the Hyderabad youngster when he faces off higher-rated players.

Adhiban struggled with his time-management in all three games. In the opening round against Aditya Mittal, 14, Adhiban was never better and eventually drew by perpetual checks.

Against Iniyan, who drew with second seed S. P. Sethuraman in the opener, Adhiban was always behind on the clock. The pressure finally took its toll in 47 moves.

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In the third round, Adhiban’s time on the clock was down to less than a minute against S. L. Narayanan’s over six minutes when the game ended following a three-fold repetition of moves.

In comparison, Sethuraman was better off. He drew with GMs Iniyan and S. L. Narayanan finally tasted victory by beating Soumya Swaminathan. Third seed Ganguly was declared the winner early in the  first round after his rival C. R. G. Krishna lost internet connectivity and could not reconnect within four minutes. He had a second-round bye before missing his chances to lose against Gukesh.

Narayanan, the fourth seeded GM, had reasons to be satisfied with the results. On a day when he faced three GMs, the victory over Deep Sengupta in the opening round was comprehensive. He then drew with second seed Sethuraman and favourite Adhiban.

The results:

Third round: Surya Shekhar Ganguly lost to D. Gukesh; C. R. G. Krishna lost to Raja Rithvik; S. L. Narayanan drew with B. Adhiban; Soumya Swaminthan lost to S. P. Sethuraman; Vishnu Prasanna lost to Deep Sengupta; Aditya Mittal bt Rahul Srivatshav; P. Iniyan bt M. Vinay Kumar; Vatsal Singhania lost to P. Saravana Krishna;  S. Nitin bye.

Second round: Adhiban lost to Iniyan; Sethuraman drew with Narayanan; Gukesh bt Krishna; Saravana  bt Vishnu; Aditya bt Vinay; Deep bt Soumya; Rahul bt Nitin; Rithvik bt Singhania; Ganguly bye.

First round: Aditya drew with Adhiban; Narayanan bt Deep; Vishnu lost to Rithvik; Krishna lost to Ganguly; Nitin bt Vinay;  Iniyan drew with Sethuraman; Gukesh bt Singhania; Soumya drew with Saravana. Rahul bye.

Standings (after Day One): 1-2. D. Gukesh, R. Raja Rithvik (3 points); 3-5. Iniyan, Aditya, Saravana (2.5 each), 6-8. Sethuraman, Narayanan, Deep (2 each); 9-12. Adhiban, Ganguly, Rahul, Nitin (1 each); 13. Soumya (0.5); 14-17. Krishna, Vishnu, Singhania and Vinay (0 each).

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