Harika starts Cap d’Agde campaign on even note

Grandmaster Harika Dronavalli, the lone Indian chess player at the prestigious 14th Anatoly Karpov Rapid International Chess Tournament, started her campaign on a mixed note with a win and a loss under her belt, here on Saturday.

Harika was content with her performance on the opening day and feels her opening day results hold her in good stead going ahead in this week-long tournament.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

Grandmaster Harika Dronavalli, the lone Indian chess player at the prestigious 14th Anatoly Karpov Rapid International Chess Tournament, started her campaign on a mixed note with a win and a loss under her belt, here on Saturday.

The event, which is held annually in honour of the former world chess champion and Russian legend Anatoly Karpov, is a rapid chess tournament played in a round robin format, with each player playing two games in a day. Every player clashes against each other twice during the initial stages, with top four players go into the knock-out stages.

The entry to the tournament is based on invitation, allowing eight highly talented players a chance to compete in the event.

World No. 5 Harika, who is playing here for the first time, took on the second seed and local favourite Bacrot Etienne, the highest rated player in the tournament with ELO rating of 2692 in her first match of the tournament. Playing in black pieces, she started off well, however few inaccurate moves during the course of the game saw the Indian get into bad position. She tried to recover and took the fight to her opponent but it could not prove enough and she finally went down to the Frenchman.

In her second tie of the day, she was up against the third seeded International Master Vega Gutteirez Sabrina of Spain. The 25-year-old Indian started the game in white pieces and avoided making any mistake. She controlled the pace of the game which pushed Sabrina on the defensive line. Harika took advantage of the situation and slowly strangled her opponent to register her first win of the tournament.

Harika was content with her performance on the opening day and feels her opening day results hold her in good stead going ahead in this week-long tournament.

“I started off well but few inaccurate moves in the middle during my first game got me into worse position and I lost the game,” the Hyderabadi lass said.

“However, in the second it was quite easier to play as she was passive and at crucial moments, I played some accurate moves and converted my position to win,” she said.

Harika, who started the tournament in the seventh position, has jumped to the fifth spot and will now take on the Grandmaster Cornette Matthieu of France and Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine in her next two games on day two.

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