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Abhijeet crushes highly-rated Vassily Ivanchuk


Press Trust of India Gibraltar
Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta showed his mettle and crushed highly rated former World Championship challenger Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine in the eighth round of Gibraltar Masters now underway here.

It was a slow start for Abhijeet but he has now come in the thick of things. This was the third 2700 above rated player that Abhijeet faced in the last three rounds.

The Indian had drawn with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France in the sixth and then had signed truce with David Navara of Czech Republic.

S P Sethuraman also reached the impressive tally of six points and in the process ended the second GM norm hunt of talented R Praggnanandhaa who went down in a keenly contested game.

With just two rounds to go in the world's richest open, Hikaru Nakamura of United States, Richard Rapport of Hungary, Daniil Dubov of Russia and Vachier-Lagrave emerged as the co- leaders on 6.5 points apiece.

Abhijeet shares the fifth spot in an elite company that boasts of world class players like Boris Gelfand of Israel, Levon Aronian of Armenia and Nikita Vituigov of Russia.

While Abhijeet meets Gelfand, Sethuraman will face-off with Aronian in the penultimate round game.

While Abhijeet and Sethuraman were in the thick of things, highest rated Indian in the fray, P Harikrishna suffered another debacle as he went down to Victor Mikhalevski of Israel. Harikrishna remained on 4.5 points and is now out of contention for a podium finish.

Looking for his maiden Grandmaster norm, Prithu Gupta's dream run in the tournament ended after his first loss at the hands of Peter Michalik of Czech Republic.

However, the Delhi youngster completed the formalities of bagging his third and final International Master norm with one round to spare. The GM norm chances still remain but for that Prithu Gupta has to score well in the remaining games.

Abhijeet had been struggling to find his form for a few months now and has finally struck gold if the performance here is anything to go by. It was a Nimzo Indian defense by Ivanchuk that met with Petrosian system and the Ukrainian star was simply not up to it.

Launching an attack on the kingside, Abhijeet was in his tactical elements when he found a brilliant knight and rook sacrifice in the middle game. Ivanchuk lost the extra material with dividends and had clearly missed the tactical shot.

The next round will be crucial for both Abhijeet and Sethuraman, who both started as lower seeds in comparison to most of the stars present here. A victory will put them in line for a title clash but a loss won't take anything away from their superlative performances here.

Important and Indian results round 8 (Indians unless stated): Wang Hao (Chn, 6) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 6.5); Richard Rapport (Hun, 6.5) beat David Howell (Eng, 6); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 6.5) beat Jules Moussard (Fra, 5.5); Daniil Dubov (Rus, 6.5) beat Mikhail Antipov (Rus, 5.5); Abhijeet Gupta (6) beat Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 5); S L Narayanan (5.5) drew with Duda Jan-Krzysztof (Pol, 5.5); Michael Adams (Eng, 5.5) drew with Sandipan Chanda (5.5); S P Sethuraman (6) beat R Praggnanandhaa (5); Victor Mikhalevski (Isr, 5.5) beat P Harikrishna (4.5); Ivan Cheparinov (Bul, 5.5) beat M R Lalith Babu (4.5); Nigel Short (Eng, 5) drew with Swapnil S. Dhopade (5); Nihal Sarin (5.5) beat Kiril Georgiev (Bul, 4.5); Debashis Das (5) drew with Rainer Buhmann (Ger, 5); Muzychuk Anna (Ukr, 5) drew with M R Venkatesh (4.5); Prithu Gupta (4.5) lost to Peter Michalik (Cze, 5.5); G N Gopal (5) beat Ladron De Guevara Pinto Paolo (Esp, 4); Dmitrij Kollars (Ger, 4.5) drew with Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh (4.5); Lilit Mkrtchian (Arm, 4) lost to Shardul Gagare (5); Bela Khotenashvili (Geo, 4.5) drew with Hemant Sharma (4.5); Xu Yi (Chn, 5) beat Raunak Sadhwani (4); David Larino Nieto (Esp, 5) beat Nisha Mohota (4); Manuel Bellon Lopez Juan (Swe, 4) lost to Prasanna Raghuram Rao (5); Padmini Rout (4.5) beat David Gavrilescu (Rou, 3.5); Merario Alarcon Andres (Esp, 4) drew with Swayams Mishra (4); Raja Harshit (4.5) beat Mario Gavilan Diaz (Esp, 3.5); Sukandar Irine Kharisma (Ina, 4) drew with P V Nandhidhaa (4); Meszaros Andras (Hun, 4) beat Cholleti Sahajasri (3); Victor Plotkin (Can, 4) beat Tejaswini Sagar.

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First Published: Jan 31 2018 | 8:05 PM IST

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