Delhi International Open: Three Indians gain IM norms

Three Indians making nine-game International Master norms was the biggest gain for the hosts from the ninth round on the penultimate day of the 14th Delhi International Open Grandmasters chess tournament here on Friday even as an undefeated Ivan Popov inched closer to claiming the honours.

Ivan Popov in action at the Delhi International Open.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Three Indians making nine-game International Master norms was the biggest gain for the hosts from the ninth round on the penultimate day of the 14th Delhi International Open Grandmasters chess tournament here on Friday even as an undefeated Ivan Popov inched closer to claiming the honours.

R. A. Pradeep Kumar, Himal Gusain and Mehar Chinna Reddy made the norms after facing varying degree of challenges. Joining the trio was Srija Seshadari, who made her Woman International Master norm.

At the top of heap, Popov settled for a 15-move draw with Ukraine’s Yuri Solodovnichenko to move within half a point of taking the title. The Russian has eight points, half a point more than second-placed Hungarian Attila Czebe, who dashed M. R. Lalith Babu’s hopes of a strong finish by scoring a 31-move victory on the second board. It was Czebe’s swift queenside offensive that forced Lalith to err.

As seen in the past editions of this annual event, once in the home-stretch, many overseas Grandmasters come up with strong performances and eventually occupy the elite positions in the final ranking list.

It was no different with Czebe showing the way. In other important results, Vitaly Sivuk outplayed N. Srinath and his teammate Valeriy Neverov ended the dream run of Pradeep Kumar.

In fact, Pradeep had scored enough points to ensure a norm even before the start of the ninth round. So a defeat on this day did not hurt his chances. Similarly, Mehar Chinna Reddy, too, needed to simply turn up for his game for a norm. The loss to N. R. Vignesh could not deny Reddy a well-deserved norm. In contrast, young Himal Gusain scored over Praneeth Surya to collect an IM norm.

On Saturday, a couple of more norms for the Indians cannot be ruled out.

The results (Indians unless stated):

Ninth round: Ivan Popov (Rus, 8) drew with Yuri Solodovnichenko (Ukr, 7); Attila Czebe (Hun, 7.5) bt M. R. Lalith Babu (6.5); Nguyen Duc Hoa (Vie, 6.5) drew with Boris Grachev (Rus, 6.5); N. Srinath (6) lost to Vitaly Sivuk (Ukr, 7); Sriram Jha (6.5) drew with Vaibhav Suri (6.5); Vitaliy Bernadskiy (Ukr, 6.5) drew with Nguen Huynh Minh Huy (Vie, 6.5); Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 7) bt Pradeep Kumar (6); Sayantan Das (6.5) bt Alberto David (Ita, 5.5); Rakesh Kulkarni (5.5) lost to Anton Demchenko (Rus, 6.5); Ravi Teja (5.5) lost to to Mikhail Mozharov (Rus, 6.5); Vladimir Belous (Rus, 6) drew with C. R. G. Krishna (6); Sipke Ernst (Ned, 6) drew with G. Akash (6); K. Ratnakaran (6.5) bt Sameer Kathmale (5.5); N. R. Vignesh (6.5) bt Mehar Chinna Reddy (5.5); Himal Gusain 6.5) bt Praneeth Surya (5.5).