FIDE Grand Swiss chess: Harika remains unbeaten, Sasikiran jumps to tied fourth spot

India's Dronavalli Harika wore down Russia's Alina Kashlinskaya with black pieces in the ninth round of the FIDE Women's Grand Swiss chess tournament, while K. Sasikiran got the better of Ukraine’s Pavel Eljanov in 33 moves.

(File Photo) Dronavalli Harika beats Kashlinskaya to grab joint second spot in the FIDE Women's Grand Swiss chess tournament.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

K. Sasikiran bounced back from the loss in the previous round to outplay Ukraine’s Pavel Eljanov in 33 moves and jumped to the tied-fourth spot with nine others after nine rounds of the $425,000 FIDE Grand Swiss chess tournament in Riga, Latvia, on Friday.

Sasikiran’s brilliant knight-play stood out as the seasoned Indian carved out a clinical win to reach six points. Raunak Sadhwani was the only other notable Indian winner after facing Russia’s Alexey Dreev.

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On the top table, top seed Fabiano Caruana ended the unbeaten run of overnight leader Alireza Firouzja to force a three-way tie for the lead with David Howell at 6.5 points. Two more rounds remain as the battle for the two qualifying spots for the coveted Candidates tournament stands intensified.

In the women's section, unbeaten D. Harika also moved to the tied fourth spot after ending a five-round draw sequence. She punished Russia’s Alina Kashlinskaya for a late error in the endgame to reach six points.

Chinese seventh seed Lie Tingjie outplayed former World champion Alexandra Kosteniuk for her fourth successive victory and opened a two-point lead. She now needs only a draw from the last two rounds to win the event and book her berth in the next Women’s Candidates tournament.

Ninth-round results (involving Indians):

Open: P. Harikrishna (5.5) drew with Samuel Sevian (USA, 6); K. Sasikiran (6) bt Pavel Eljanov (Ukr, 5); Nihal Sarin (5.5) drew with Bogdan-Daniel Deac (Rou, 5.5); Ivan Saric (Cro, 5) bt R. Praggnanandhaa (4); Arjun Erigaisi (4.5) drew with Temur Kuybokarov (Aus, 4.5); Raunak Sadhwani (5) bt Aleksey Dreev (3.5); S. P. Sethuraman (4) drew with Maxim Matlakov (Rus, 4); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (3.5) lost to Zhou Jianchao (Chn, 4.5); B. Adhiban (3) lost to Haik Martirosyan (Arm, 4); D. Gukesh (3.5) lost to Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson (Isl, 3.5).

Women: Alina Kashlinskaya (Rus, 5) lost to D. Harika (6); Vantika Agrawal (5) drew with Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul, 5); R. Vaishali (5) drew with Pia Cramling (Swe, 5); Meri Arabidze (Geo, 4) bt Divya Deshmukh (3); Padmini Rout (3.5) drew with Hoang Thanh Trang (Hun, 3).

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