Harikrishna suffers fourth defeat

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/c/chessgeneric2.jpg' class='caption'> P Harikrishna went down against Grandmaster Alexei Shirov of Spain in the ninth round of the Aerosvit International Grandmasters Chess Tournament.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Crimea, Ukraine:

Former World Junior Champion P Harikrishna went down against an experienced Grandmaster Alexei Shirov of Spain in the ninth round of the Aerosvit International Grandmasters Chess Tournament. Harikrishna, with white, played the Slav Defence which has a reputation for being a rock solid opening, but Shirov appeared better versed in the intricacies of the positions to hand over the Indian his fourth defeat in the tournament. With two more rounds remaining in the category-18 tournament, Harikrishna was lying low with paltry three points alongwith Sergei Karjakin, who lost to Ruslan Ponomariov. Shirov sacrificed a knight on the 18th move to expose Harikrishna's king and the best the Indian could come up with was to return the piece and exchange queens to prevent a direct attack. The Spaniard was a pawn up to be in clearly better position in the endgame and even the presence of opposite coloured bishops did not help Harikrishna. The Indian resigned on the 38th move after losing another pawn. The position at the top of the standings was unchanged with Sergei Rublevsky of Russia leading the field with 6.5 points and Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) following him on 6.0. Rublevsky played the Scheveningen variation of Sicilian Defence against Ukrainian Grandmaster Alexander Areshchenko and the players followed a well trodden path in the opening. Areshchenko did play very ambitiously despite having the white pieces and Rublevsky emerged from the opening with equal chances. The players agreed to a draw after 20 moves, neither willing to take risks in pursuit of victory. After two consecutive wins, Ivanchuk seemed to be in a quiet mood. Facing the Kings Indian Defence against Bologan (Moldova), Ivanchuk opted for a safe variation which did not promise much by the way of winning chances. The critical moment came on the 12th move when Ivanchuk opted for the Queen exchange instead of going for more complicated play. Bologan had little difficulty thereafter and the game petered out into a draw after the rooks were exchanged on the 22nd move. As a result of this draw, Bologan holds on to the third place in the standings. Former World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine played enterprising chess to score over his compatriot Sergei Karjakin. His first victory in the tournament must have come as welcome relief to Ponomariov who was at the bottom of the table before this round. Ponomariov played the Sicilian Najdorf which was countered with the English Attack by Karjakin. A fierce battle was fought in the middle game. Ponomariov had his King stuck in the centre, but this mattered less and less as pieces got exchanged. Ponomariov made a brilliant exchange sacrifice on the 31st move and his two bishops proved stronger than Karjakin's Rook and Knight in the endgame. Andrei Volokitin (Ukraine) crashed to his third consecutive defeat when he lost to Alexander Grischuk (Russia) with black in a Petroff Defence game. (PTI)

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