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World Cup Round 1.2: Hari and Sethu advance

by Sagar Shah - 13/09/2015

Two Indians had to pack their bags and leave Baku - Lalith Babu and Surya Shekhar Ganguly. Two of them advanced to the round two Harikrishna and Sethuraman, while Adhiban and Vidit will fight it out in the tie-breaks tomorrow against Fedoseev and Bruzon respectively.

World Cup Round 1.2: Hari and Sethu through

Two Indian players are in terrific form in Baku - one is Pentala Harikrishna who won the first game against Max Illingworth and was in no danger in game two. In fact he was just better throughout but couldn't really breakthrough. But it doesn't really matter because he has qualified to round two with a 1.5-0.5 victory.

Harikrishna's 1.5-0.5 victory takes him to he second round of the World Cup

The other Indian who played some fantastic chess was Sethuraman! A 2-0 demolition of a 2664 opponent - Sanan Sjugirov. After winning a clean game yesterday, Sethu not only required just half a point but also had the white pieces. After getting a small edge from the opening a pragmatic player would have made sure to play as solidly as possible. But for a young and ambitious guy like Sethu it seemed playing best possible chess was more important than mere "qualification". The move d5-d6! was surely a double edged idea. On one hand it gave White loads of space but on the other the pawn was now weak and isolated. But the Indian player had seen that it was not just the pawn on d6 but the square it cleared on d5 which was very important. He used this square to great effect. Sanan was definitely off colour as he made one mistake after another to give Sethuraman a 2-0 victory! Beating an opponent rated higher than you in such a fashion is an ominous sign for Sethuraman's future opponents.

After the first round we contacted Sethu to know his views and this is what he had to say:"The first game was crucial .My opponent went for a risky line in Berlin for both sides which is very unusual for an opening like Berlin. I was well prepared and aware of the recent game between Topalov-Caruana in Saint Lious 2015. Qd1 was played instead Qe3 which he played in game which was a serious mistake."


Sanan's Qb3-e3 was a serious mistake according to Sethuraman

I gained the initiative and had more than 45 mins difference in my clock. Yet, I didn't expect that it will end in 23 moves.

In game two, although draw was at the back of my mind, I didn't want to play passively. It's generally a bad idea when you play for a draw. I played normally like I do usually, meeting the demands of the position."  

This leads to some good as well as bad news for Indian fans. The bad news is that Harikrishna and Sethuraman will face each other in round two of the World Cup. So one of them will be eliminated. But the good, or should I say "not so bad" news, is that one of them will advance to the third round.

Sethuraman said after his game, "It's unfortunate that we Indians have to face against each other in Round two but I am eagerly looking forward to the match after the rest day."

Speaking about bad news - two Indians had to pack their bags as their brief sojourn came to an end in Baku. One of them was Lalith Babu who lost with the Black pieces to Wojtaszek and the match by 1.5-0.5 margin. It was sad because Lalith was able to equalize in the opening (Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2 variation) without any real problems. His bishop on a4 was doing a great job of controlling the d1 square so that a white rook would not be able to make use of that square. The moment Lalith moved it away, the white rooks doubled on the d-file put immense pressure on d6 and the Indian had to part away with this pawn. The rest was still not very easy but you can bank on a 2741 player to convert the position which he did without many problems.

Wojtaszek with white pieces was too much for Lalith to handle (picture by Susan Polgar)

On the other hand, Surya Shekhar Ganguly had lost his first game against Artemiev with the black pieces. Having the white pieces in game two he began with 1.e4 and a Najdorf was just what the doctor ordered for the Indian player. More the complications, more the chances to win! But it seemed like the 17-year-old Artemiev had absolutely no pressure of the one point lead. He played some excellent chess and Ganguly was soon in a completely lost position. Nearing the 40th move, Black only had to play Ka7 and Ganguly would have had to throw in the towel but he went Kc8 and the Kolkata GM was able to make a draw. But it didn't help him much as he was eliminated from the World Cup due to a 0.5-1.5 deficit.

The round back home is always longer! Two of Anand's former seconds

The only positive thing for Ganguly and Lalith is that they go back home with US $4800 (net of tax).

The most interesting part: Two Indians are in the rapid and blitz tie-breaks as their matches ended in a 1-1 draw. They are B.Adhiban and Vidit Gujrathi.
After being the first guy to finish the game yesterday, Adhiban got in the groove today with an extremely solid draw with Fedoseev with the black pieces. At no point in the game was he worse and it was the Russian who had to force the draw.

No one could break through the other's defences (picture by Susan Polgar)

As for Vidit, it seemed as if he didn't really want to make use of his white pieces as he agreed to a draw in just 15 moves in the Catalan. Was it a part of his strategy or was he simply unhappy with his opening position?


Time for Vidit to get his act together

Whatever it is, we are in the tie-breaks tomorrow. What is the format? 

First the players will play a two game match of 25 minute plus 10 second incremement. If that ends in a draw then another two game rapid match of 10 minutes plus 10 second increment. If that too is level then a blitz match of two games of 5 minutes + 3 seconds increment. And finally, if we do not have a winner yet then an armageddon with white having five minutes, black four (with incremement of three secs after 60 moves) and a draw would mean white is eliminated.

These rapid and blitz tie-breaks are filled with enormous tension and pressure. But Adhiban is not new to this experience. In 2013 World Cup he played 8 games against his first round opponent Alekseev to emerge 5-3 up in this marathon struggle! Hence, I would give an edge to Adhiban in tomorrow's tie-breaks.

 An 8-game marathon struggle in 2013 World Cup against Alekseev ended in 5-3 victory for Adhiban

As for Vidit, it is his first outing. But the speed and accuracy with which he calculates, I am sure that he has excellent chances against his not so young (33-year-old) Cuban opponent.

The chess fans are in for a treat tomorrow. Do not forget to tune in to the live broadcast at 15.30 hours IST.
You can catch all the live action on the official website.

Nearly all the top seeds have progressed to round two. A few of the casualties were GM Gata Kamsky who lost to Hrant Melkumyan and GM Ni Hua who was beaten by Mareco Sandro. Teimour Radjabov goes into the tie-breaks against the young Sevian and so does the experienced Gelfand against Cristobal Henriquez Villagra (2511).

Gelfand going into the tie-breaks is surprising because in game one.....


....where he was white he took a draw in this position where he has an advantage of nearly three points! Just the simple Rc1 would win as the knight cannot move due to the threat of Ba3.

 Pictures from the official website

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