Two-time former National champion M. Karthikeyan stunned World No. 6 and top seed Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) to finish runner-up in the prestigious Gibraltar Masters chess tournament here on Thursday.
Saving his best for the last round, Karthikeyan delivered the knockout punch on the 65th move to post his fifth win in succession and finished runner-up with eight points from 10 rounds. He received GBP 20,000 (approx. ₹18.64 lakh).
Russia’s 20-year-old, 11th seeded GM Vladislav Artemiev topped an elite field with a tally of 8.5 points.
Among the 26 Indians, Karthikeyan hogged the spotlight by beating rivals rated over 2700 in the last three rounds. Rated 2570 and starting the event in the 49th place, Karthikeyan performed at the level of 2747 and gained 24 rating points. Barring Vachier (2780), his other two illustrious victims were, 14th seeded Russian Maxim Matlakov (2700) and 12th seeded Azerbaijani Rauf Mamedov (2703).
Lalit Babu shines
M. R. Lalit Babu, another former National champion, was the other big gainer. He finished eighth with seven points. Rated 2547, Lalit gained 30 rating points after his unbeaten campaign saw him conquer England’s Ivan Cheparinov (2691) and Serbia’s Aleksandar Indjic (2630) besides playing out draws with England’s Michael Adams (2701) and third seed, U.S.’s Wesley So (2765).
Vaibhav Suri, the country's youngest GM D. Gukesh, and B. Adhiban, tallied 6.5 points each and finished 25th, 27th and 28th, in that order. Suri and Gukesh added 14 and 21 rating points, respectively, but Adhiban lost six.
Several other Indians also gained rating from this extremely tough event. Among those who gained were, Harsha Bharathakoti (17), K. Humpy (8), Abhimanyu Puranik (8), Raunka Sadhwani (16), Prithu Gupta (8), D. Harika (11) and C. R. G. Krishna (6).