Russian roulette: Popov, Demchenko, Sivuk maintain winning run

Russians Ivan Popov, Anton Demchenko and Ukrainian Vitaly Sivuk won with black pieces on the top three boards to form the leaders’ pack following an all-win sequence, after four rounds of the Delhi International Open Grandmasters chess tournament here on Monday.

Pradeep Kumar, rated 2,302, proved more than a handful for 13th-seeded Russian GM Artur Gabrielian (2,545) in 44 moves.

Russians Ivan Popov, Anton Demchenko and Ukrainian Vitaly Sivuk won with black pieces on the top three boards to form the leaders’ pack following an all-win sequence, after four rounds of the Delhi International Open Grandmasters chess tournament here on Monday.

From the host’s point of view, D. Bala Chandra Prasad, who started the day as part of the eight-man leaders’ group, drew with 12{+t}{+h}-seeded Ukrainian GM Vitaliy Bernadskiy in an equal battle lasting 46 moves to continue his unbeaten run. He is among those following the leaders at 3.5 points.

The three Indian GMs in the fray – M. R. Lalith Babu, Vaibhav Suri and Sriram Jha – won their games while 20{+t}{+h}-seeded International Master N. Srinath, the third strongest Indian in the field, crashed to a surprise 48-move defeat at the hands of Mehar Chinna Reddy, rated 185 points below at 2,293.

Popov, Demchenko and Sivuk, seeded two, four and six, faced varying degrees of challenges before maintaining their winning sequence.

Popov outplayed Vietnamese GM Nguyen Duc Hoa in 44 moves, after Sivuk punished Rahul Sangma with a swift kingside offensive. A tactical stroke from the Ukrainian on the 30th move – trading rook for knight - left Sangma facing a checkmate in a couple of moves. A hapless Sangma gave up at this point.

Himal Gusain, down two pawns against Demchenko, stretched the battle to 78 moves before choosing to resign.

Meanwhile, lesser-known Indians continued to make it tough for overseas Grandmasters.

If Pradeep Kumar, rated 2,302, proved more than a handful for 13{+t}{+h}-seeded Russian GM Artur Gabrielian (2,545) in 44 moves, Srijit Paul (2,293) drew with Dutch GM Sipke Ernst (2,536), 11-year-old Nihal Sarin (2,217) held eighth seeded Russian GM Vladimir Belous (2,557), P. R. Hirthickkesh (2,187) proved equal to 16{+t}{+h}-seeded Ukrainian GM Valeriy Neverov (2,506) and experienced

Vinay Kumar Matta (2,163) came out undefeated after 33 moves against Uzbek GM Marat Dzhumaev (2,495).

The results (Indians unless stated):

Fourth round: Nguyen Duc Hoa (Vie, 3) lost to Ivan Popov (Rus, 4); Himal Gusain (3) lost to Anton Demchenko (Rus, 4); Rahul Sangma (3) lost to Vitaly Sivuk (Ukr, 4); D. Bala Chandra Prasad (3.5) drew with Vitaliy Bernadskiy (Ukr, 3.5); Boris Grachev (3.5) bt S. Nitin (2.5); Yuri Solodovnichenko (Ukr, 3.5) bt N. R. Visakh (2.5); Mikhail Mozharov (Rus, 3) drew with Himanshu Sharma (3); Adam Tukhaev (Ukr, 3.5) bt Rakesh Kulkarni (2.5); Vaibhav Suri (3.5) bt Ankit Gajwa (2.5); Artur Gabrielian (Rus, 2.5) lost to Pradeep Kumar (3.5); Srijit Paul (3) drew with Sipke Ernst (Ned, 3); Mehar Chinna Reddy (3.5) bt N. Srinath (2.5); Attila Czebe (Hun, 3.5) bt Utkal Ranjan Sahoo (2.5); K. Ratnakaran (3) drew with Prince Bajaj (3); Sriram Jha (3.5) bt Rahul Srivatshav (2.5); Srija Seshadri (3) drew with Ramnath Bhuvanesh (3); Sayantan Das (3.5) bt Niranjan Navalgund (2.5).