Delhi International Chess: Popov clinches title

Russia’s Ivan Popov suffered a surprise last-round loss but was not to be denied the 14th Delhi International Open chess title here on Saturday. Ukraine’s Valeriy Neverov inflicted a 43-move defeat with white pieces to force a three-way tie at eight points. But Popov clinched the title on a superior tie-break score ahead of runner-up Hungarian Attila Czebe and third-placed Neverov.

Ivan Popov with the winner's trophy and a cheque.   -  Sushil Kumar Verma

Russia’s Ivan Popov suffered a surprise last-round loss but was not to be denied the 14th Delhi International Open chess title here on Saturday. Ukraine’s Valeriy Neverov inflicted a 43-move defeat with white pieces to force a three-way tie at eight points. But Popov clinched the title on a superior tie-break score ahead of runner-up Hungarian Attila Czebe and third-placed Neverov.

In fact, Vitaly Sivuk did Popov a favour by holding Czebe in 30 moves on the second board. After Popov’s loss, a victory for Czebe would have given him the title. Popov deservedly claimed the winner’s trophy and Rs. 3,00,000. Czebe received Rs. 2,00,000 and Neverov settled for Rs. 1,00,000.

Among the Indians, M. R. Lalith Babu justified his presence in the event as the highest-rated Indian and defeated Ukraine’s Yuri Solodovnichenko in 68 moves to be among the six players tied for the fourth spot with 7.5 points.

On a day when seven out of the top nine boards produced decisive results, Sayantan Das outwitted Ukraine’s Vitaliy Bernadskiy and Vaibhav Suri scored over Himal Gusain to join Lalith at 7.5 points.

In fact, the 66-move victory with black pieces earned Sayantan Das a GM-norm.

Later, in ‘C’ Category – for those rated 1599 and below – N. Srihari scored 9.5 points from 10 rounds to win Rs. 1,50,000 as the winner’s share. There was a three-way tie for the second spot, with Ashutosh Banerjee, Shanya Mishra and Manish Kumar Sharma scoring nine points each.

The results (Indians unless stated):

10th and final round: Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 8) bt Ivan Popov (Rus, 8); Vitaly Sivuk (Ukr, 7.5) drew with Attila Czebe (Hun, 8); Yuri Solodovnichenko (Ukr, 7) lost to M. R. Lalith Babu (7.5); Boris Grachev (Rus, 7) drew with N. R. Vignesh (7); Anton Demchenko (Rus, 7.5) bt Sriram Jha (6.5); Mikhail Mozharov (Rus, 7.5) bt K. Ratnakaran (6.5); Vaibhav Suri (7.5) bt Himal Gusain (6.5); Vitaliy Bernadskiy (Ukr, 6.5) lost to Sayantan Das (7.5); Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy (Vie, 6.5) lost to Nguyen Duc Hoa (Vie, 7.5).

Final standings (with points scored and prize-money earned): 1-3. Popov (8 points, Rs. 3,00,000); Czebe (8, Rs. 2,00,000); Neverov (8, Rs. 1,00,000), 4-10. Sivuk (7.5, Rs. 80,000), Demchenko (7.5, Rs. 60,000), Lalith (7.5, Rs. 40,000), Sayantan (7.5, Rs. 30,000), Hoa (7.5, Rs. 25,000) Suri (7.5, Rs. 20,000)and Mozharov (7.5, Rs. 20,000).