Sethuraman stuns Gelfand; Praggnanandhaa stops Howell

S. P. Sethuraman stunned Boris Gelfand and 12-year-old R. Praggnanandhaa shocked England No. 2 David Howell.

S. P. Sethuraman now has four points in the tournament.   -  Special Arrangement (File Photo)

S. P. Sethuraman stunned Boris Gelfand and 12-year-old R. Praggnanandhaa shocked England No. 2 David Howell as the growing depth of Indian chess was in full view during the fifth round of the Isle of Man chess tournament here on Wednesday.

On a day when world champion Magnus Carlsen and Eljanov Pavel won their games with white pieces to stay in the lead at 4.5 points, Sethuraman, Vidit Gujrathi and National junior champion Harsha Bharathakoti – the conqueror of B. Adhiban – became part of the nine-player group, sharing the third spot at four points.

Viswanathan Anand was held by Sweden’s Nils Grandelius and Vidit could not get more than a draw against lower-rated Aleksandr Lenderman.

Sethuraman outwitted Gelfand in an ending involving a bishop each and pawns. Once all the pieces, except the bright-squared bishops, were exchanged by the 30th move, Sethuraman used the minor piece better than his seasoned rival and eventually came out stronger in 52 moves.

Big win

Praggnanandhaa, looking to become the world’s youngest-ever Grandmaster on the all-time list by picking up three GM norms by the first week of March next year, scored one of the biggest victories of his budding career in outsmarting Howell, rated 201 points above at 2701!

The youngster did overlook a shorter way to victory towards the end before Howell blundered again on the 53rd move in an ending involving a rook each and pawns. Following Howell’s dubious pawn-push, Praggnanandhaa seized the opportunity. He went on to capture the last black pawn for a two-pawn advantage and forced Howell to give up on the 64th move.

Away from the spotlight, Harsha continued to make a mockery of rating. Rated at a modest 2394, the recently-crowned National junior champion has so far performed at a rating of 2984 after beating three of the five Grandmasters he has faced so far. He started with a draw against Sergei Movsesian (Armenia, 2671), beat Varuzhan Akobian (USA, 2662), drew with Gawain Jones (England, 2668), defeated Sebastian Bogner (Switzerland, 2599) and stunned compatriot Adhiban (2670) to gain 30.8 rating points.

The results

Fifth round (involving Indians): Vidit Gujrathi (4) drew with Aleksandr Lenderman (USA, 4); Viswanathan Anand (3.5) drew with Nils Grandelius (Swe, 3.5); S. P. Sethuraman (4) bt Boris Gelfand (Isr, 3); B. Adhiban (3) lost to Harsha Bharathakoti (4); Gawain Jones (Eng, 3.5) drew with Swapnil Dhopade (3.5); R. Praggnanandhaa (3.5) bt David Howell (Eng, 2.5); Ju Wenjun (Chn, 3) drew with Arjun Kalyan (3); Aravindh Chithambaram (3.5) bt Peter Roberson (Eng, 2.5); Dennis Wagner (Ger, 3.5) bt C. R. G. Krishna (2.5); Alina L’ami (Rou, 2.5) lost to Vishnu Prasanna (3.5); Krikor Sevag Mekhitarian (Bra, 2.5) lost to K. Ratnakaran (3.5); D. Harika (2.5) lost to Anna Rudolf (Hun, 3.5); Rakesh Kumar Jena (2) lost to Varuzhan Akobian (USA, 3); Pravel Tregubov (Rus, 2.5) drew with S. Kidambi (2.5); S. L. Narayanan (3) bt Harshit Raja (2); Konstantin Kavutskiy (USA, 3) bt Nihal Sarin (2); P. Magesh Chandran (3) bt Evgeny Degtiarev (Ger, 2); Aman Hambleton (Can, 3) bt V. Pranav (2); Robert Bellin (Eng, 2.5) drew with N. R. Visakh (2.5); Johan-Sebastian Christiansen (Nor, 2.5) drew with Eesha Karavade (2.5); R. Vaishali (2.5) drew with Marc Esserman (USA, 2.5); Neelotpal Das (3) bt Yoo Christopher Woojin (USA, 2).

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