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Kunte moves to fourth place

January 05, 2004 18:23 IST

Indian Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte outsmarted International Master Alexander Cherniaev of Russia in the eighth and penultimate round in the Hastings International Chess Congress to move into fourth place with 4.5 points.

Grandmaster Vasilios Kotronias of Cyprus joined top seeded Grandmaster Vladimir Epishin of Russia in the lead after Grandmaster Mark Hebden of England held the latter to a draw.

Both Kotronias and Epishin have 5.5 points from eight games. They are followed by Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson of Scotland on five points while defending champion Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen of Denmark is in fifth place with four points.

In the last round, slated later today, Rowson will play Epishin, white while Kotronias will have the advantage of making the first move against Kunte.

The first prize of this category-13-10-players event is 1200 pounds sterling.

In the eighth round, Kunte had to rely on his luck after bungling out a favourable middle game arising out of a Leningrad Dutch defence where Cherniaev played black.

Things looked rosy for the Indian as he seized the initiative on the queenside with emphatic play but ventured for a suspicious pawn sacrifice, overlooking black's counterattack through a simple retreat.

"I completely missed his defensive resources otherwise the pawn sacrifice was quite unnecessary as I was anyway much better," said Kunte after the game.

As it happened later, Cherniaev failed to convert his extra pawn into anything useful and allowed Kunte to launch an attack against the King that proved decisive.

The Indian pounced on every opportunity thereafter and created irresistible threats that netted him the full point in 54 moves.

"I fought hard and after he allowed me to attack, his position was difficult," observed Kunte, who is now assured of a small gain in his present Elo rating of 2531 with one game still in hand.

Kotronias accounted for Nielsen in a well-fought game that featured the Classical variation of the King's Indian defence.

Playing white, Nielsen was up against a dangerous Kingside attack that is typical of the system and found his defences weakened through a power-packed assault by opposition pieces. Kotronias won the Queen with a simple combination and had little trouble thereafter. The game lasted 41 moves.

Epishin could not convert a slight advantage against GM Mark Hebden of England, who played black. Opting for the Bayonet attack against the King's Indian, the Russian maintained a superior position for the major part of the game but Hebden attained equality after routine exchanges led to a rook and pawns endgame. The peace was signed on move 42.

Kateryna Lahno, 14, of Ukraine continued to impress as she held Rowson to an easy draw in an English attack game.

Rowson employed one of the popular variation but could not do much against Lahno's solid play.

Results round 8:

Vladimir Epishin (5.5, Rus) drew Mark Hebden (3.5, Eng); Abhijit Kunte (4.5) beat Alexander Cherniaev (Rus, 2.5); Peter Heine Nielsen (4, Den) lost to Vasilios Kotronias (5.5, Cyprus); Kateryna Lahno (3.5, Ur) drew Jonathan Rowson (5, Sco); Stuart Conquest (3.5, Eng) beat Daniel Gormally (2.5, Eng).

Standings after round 8: 1-2. Epishin, Kotronias 5.5 each; 3. Rowson 5; 4. Kunte 4.5; 5. Nielsen 4; 6-8. Hebden, Lahno, Conquest 3.5 each; 9-10. Gormally, Cherniaev 2.5 each.

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