Harikrishna holds Caruana in Shamkir

Grandmaster P. Harikrishna played a fine game to hold world number two Fabiano Caruana of Italy in the first round Shamkir Chess tournament that got underway here today.

All the five games of this 10-player double round-robin ended in draws, albeit after reasonable fights.   -  AP

Grandmaster P. Harikrishna played a fine game to hold world number two Fabiano Caruana of Italy in the first round Shamkir Chess tournament that got underway here today.

Just seven points adrift of former world champion Viswanathan Anand and number 12 in world rankings according to latest FIDE rating list, Harikrishna came up with a solid performance with black pieces and did not give many chances to Caruana in what was a keenly contested game of the opening round.

All the five games of this 10-player double round-robin ended in draws, albeit after reasonable fights. Local lad Rauf Mamedov did well to hold Anish Giri of Holland while highest ranked woman played Yifan Hou played well to hold Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan could not break any ice against Sergey Karjakin of Russia and the other Azerbaijani — Safarli Eltaj — drew with Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine.

Little changed after the conclusion of the opening round of this Euro 83000 prize money tournament and all the 10 participants currently enjoy a piece of the pie.

Having done decently in his last super tournament in Norway where he ended with a fifty percent score, the onus was on Harikrishna and he passed with flying colours after giving little away to Caruana, who is known to be amongst the best prepared players on the planet.

For the record, it was a Sicilian Taimanov where the Indian faced one of the topical variations. Typical to his style that involves finding new ideas at the early stage of the game, Harikrishna forced Caruana to think early in the middle game.

It was on move 12 that the American Grandmaster found himself on ‘terra incognita’, which is not a usual sight for someone as well prepared as him. Harikrishna soon found a way to equality although a bit of precision was required for him to keep the balance.

Subsequent exchanges led to a rook and minor piece endgame wherein Harikrishna had a passed pawn in the centre, Caruana tried to put some pressure but the Indian was at the top of his game in defense. The game lasted 43 moves.

Results round 1:

Fabiano Caruana (USA) drew with P. Harikrishna (Ind); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus); Eltaj Safarli (Aze) drew with Pavel Eljanov (Ukr); Rauf Mamedov (Aze) drew with Anish Giri (Ned); Teimour Radjabov (Aze) drew with Yifan Hou (Chn).