Viswanathan Anand struggled all the way to save half a point against USA’s Robert Hess even as many younger Indians continued their impressive performances in the second round of Isle of Man International chess tournament here on Sunday.
Five Indians – Vidit Gujarati, Vaibhav Suri, Abhijeet Gupta, V. Vishnu Prasanna and Harsha Bharathakoti – were part of the 19-player leaders’ group at two points.
For the second straight day, Anand looked for form while Vladimir Kramnik and Michael Adams searched for their first win.
Anand (rated 2771) found the going tough against the French Defence opted by the American (2574). A loss of the extreme kingside pawn on the 36th turn meant Anand had to battle with a rook and three pawns against a rook and four pawns of Hess.
Like on Saturday, Anand played better in the second half of the encounter. By the 52nd move, after Anand gave up a pawn, Hess was trying to force a win with the help of his two extra, but disjointed, kingside pawns.
Hess, under time-pressure, faltered with his decision to give up an advanced pawn on the 62nd move. Thereafter, Anand was never in any serious threat of losing. Before long, draw was agreed with only the kings left on the board after 78 moves.
Among the Indians, Vishnu (2504) stunned Israel’s Tamir Nabaty (2692) and Harsha (2492) surprised compatriot S. P. Sethuraman (2673) to post unexpected wins.
R. Praggnanandhaa (2519) held the seasoned Hungarian Peter Leko (2690) while his sister R. Vaishali (2313) proved equal to former women’s World champion Russia’s Alexandra Kosteniuk (2551).
Several other Indians drew with rivals rated way higher. M. Shyam Sundar (2505) split the point with the vastly experienced Nigel Short (2652) and young International Master Prithu Gupta (2458) did likewise with Germany’s Niclas Huschenbeth (2589). Similarly, S. Ravi Teja
(2357) and Rahul Srivastava (2395) took half-a-point off England’s David Howell (2689) and former World championship finalist Alexei Shirov (2636), respectively.
Important second round results (involving Indians): Abhimanyu Puranik (1) lost to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 2) Viswanathan Anand (1.5) drew with Robert Hess (US, 1.5); Vidit Gujarati (2) bt Debashis Das (1); V. Vishnu Prasanna (2) bt Tamir Nabaty (Isr, 1); Peter Leko (Hun, 1.5) drew with R. Praggnanandhaa (1.5); Harsha Bharathakoti (2) bt S. P. Sethuraman (1); B. Adhiban (1.5) drew with Helgi Olafsson (Isl, 1.5); Nigel Short (Eng, 1.5) drew with M. Shyam Sundar (1.5); Vaibhav Suri (2) bt Daniel Gormally (Eng, 1); Niclas Huschenbeth (Ger, 1.5) drew with Prithu Gupta (1.5); Valerio Bianco (Ita, 1) lost to Abhijeet Gupta (2); Raja Harshit (0.5) lost to Wesley So (US, 1.5); Hikaru Nakamura (US, 1.5) bt S. Kidambi (0.5); C. R. G. Krishna (0.5) lost to Richard Rapport (Hun, 1.5); S. Ravi Teja (1) drew with David Howell (Eng, 1); Rahul Srivastava (1) drew with Alexei Shirov (Esp, 1);
Jovana Rapport (Geo, 1) drew with Surya Shekar Ganguly (1); Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus, 1) drew with R. Vaishali (1).