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Kunte holds top seed Epishin
December 31, 2003 17:35 IST
Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte played out a cautious draw with top seeded Grandmaster Vladimir Epishin of Russia in third round of the Hastings International Chess Congress in Hasting, England, on Wednesday.
The draw, however, did not help Kunte improve his position in the 79th edition of the traditional tournament, as he remained joint-seventh in the 10-player tournament.
Grandmaster Vasilios Kotronias emerged the new sole leader following a brilliant victory over International Master Alexander Cherniaev of Russia.
Kotronias, now on 2.5 points, is closely followed by defending champion Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen of Denmark, GM Mark Hebden of England and Epishin, who all have two points apiece.
Next in line are Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson of England and Cherniaev, on 1.5 points, while GM Stuart Conquest and IM Daniel Gormally of England and Kunte are close behind with a point each.
Youngest participant Kateryna Lahno of Uzbekistan came under the firing line of Nielsen and was pushed to last place in the standings with just half a point.
Six more rounds remain in this category 13 event.
Kunte (rated 2535) is more than 100 points behind Epishin (2658) in the Elo rating list and that certainly played on his mind as he settled behind white pieces.
The result was rather a safe and sound approach against the Semi Slav defence where Epishin had little trouble in maintaining the balance. The game lasted only 18 moves.
Kotronias played a fine attacking game to crush Cherniaev, who suffered his first loss in the tournament. The opening was a Rossolimo attack, where the Russian, white, did not even get a semblance of advantage and found his pieces relegated on the wrong side while Kotronias made merry. The end was picturesque as Kotronias delivered a checkmate on board on move 38.
The game between Nielsen and Lahno was yet another one-sided affair of the day, as the Dane proved superior in all departments of the game. The variation in the English opening was at one-time a favourite of Russian GM Vladimir Kramnik and Nielsen got a huge spatial advantage with his white pieces in the ensuing middle game. Dismantling the pawn structure with well-timed exchanges, Nielsen romped home in 46 moves after sacrificing an exchange.
Daniel Gormally, generally a tough customer, is finding the going tough. And he could not have hoped for a better occasion to open his account. The Englishman downed compatriot and overnight leader Hebden, who played black.
Gormally opted for the same move order that gave Kunte a good position in his first round game against Hebden and went for a thematic exchange sacrifice that gave him a stronghold in the centre. Hebden tried for some complications with a piece sacrifice in the latter stages of the middle game but his efforts went in vain as Gormally wrapped the issue in 42 moves.
The game between Conquest and Rowson was an exciting draw after 47 moves.
Results (round 3): Peter Heine Nielsen (2, Den) beat Kateryna Lahno (0.5, Ukr); Alexander Cherniaev (1.5, Rus) lost to Vasilios Kotronias (2.5, Cyp); Daniel Gormally (1, Eng) beat Mark Hebden (2, Eng); Abhijit Kunte (1) drew Vladimir Epishin (2, Rus); Stuart Conquest (1, Eng) drew Jonathan Rowson (1.5, Sco).
Standings after round 3: 1. Kotronias; 2-4. Nielsen, Epishin, Hebden 2 each; 5-6. Rowson, Cherniaev 1.5 each; 7-9. Gormally, Conquest, Kunte 1 each; 10. Lahno 0.5.