World junior champion Pendyala Harikrishna moved into the semi-finals in the Lausanne Young Masters International Chess tournament with a hard-fought draw with Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the second game of the two-game mini match.
Having won the first game displaying great endgame acumen, Harikrishna knew that a draw was enough for him to proceed further in the tournament and the Indian achieved precisely that after 66 moves to notch a 1.5-0.5 victory over Carlsen.
In the semi-finals, Harikrishna will have to tackle top seed and former Ukrainian champion Andrei Volokitin in this unique event that has top young players of the world participating.
The tournament is being played on the knock-out format with the exception that the losers will fight it out for the remaining place.
Interestingly, fourth seed Harikrishna was the only favourite to concede a half point to Carlsen as the remaining three knocked out their opponents by 2-0 margins.
According to chess pundits, this happened because the Indian played in round one against the toughest opponent, who is often touted as the future World champion.
In the remaining three matches of this eight-player event, Volokitin, United States champion Hikaru Nakamura and former World junior champion Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan ended winners for the second day running against Elisabeth Paehtz of Germany, Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia and Maxi me Vachier Lagrave of France respectively.
The other semi-final will be played between Nakamura and Mamedyarov.
For Harikrishna, things did not come easy as he might have wished against Carlsen, who went for the blood right from the word go.
It was a Ruy Lopez opening in which the Indian played black and looked in all sorts of trouble after Carlsen unleashed an optically brilliant piece sacrifice to rip a part black's Kingside.
Harikrishna, however, put up some brilliant resistance and when the dust subsided he was an exchange down with enough hopes for a draw. Carlsen exchanged the queens on the 45th move not judging the endgame well enough and Harikrishna, with his perfect defense thereafter forced his opponent to split the point.
It turned out to be a better day yet again for Volokitin as he stormed past the challenge of Paehtz amidst tactical complexities. The opening was a Sicilian Paulsen in which the Ukrainian played black and spotted a hole in the calculations of Paehtz to win a pawn by force in the middle game.
So on after it was a rook and opposite colour endgame on board and the technique of Volokitin did not desert him. The game lasted 55 moves.
Nakamura was quicker in scoring over Dzagnidze, who blundered away a seemingly equal endgame in the Grunfeld defense. Playing black, Nakamura won an exchange by force in the queenless middle game and the rest was child's play.
Mamedyarov also had it easy against Vachier-Lagrave in another Ruy Lopez of the day. Playing white, the French went haywire in the endgame where he first lost a pawn and later found his king under firing line. It took 44 moves for Mamedyarov to romp home.
Results round 1, Game 2 (overall score in brackets):
Magnus Carlsen (Nor) drew with P Harikrishna (0.5-1.5); (1.5-0.5); Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger) lost to Andrei Volokitin (Ukr) (0-2); Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) lost to Hikaru Nakamura (USA) (0-2); maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra) lost to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze) (0-2).
Magnus Carlsen v/s P Harikrishna
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. Be3 exd4 11. cxd4 Na5 12. Bc2 Nc4 13. Bc1 c5 14. b3 Nb6 15. Nbd2 Nfd7 16. h3 Bh5 17. Bb2 Rc8 18. Rc1 d5 19. dxc5 Nxc5 20. exd5 Nxd5 21. Bf5 Ne6 22. Rxc8 Qxc8 23. Qa1 Bf6 24. Nd4 Ndf4 25. Ne4 Bxd4 26. Bxd4 Bg6 27. Bxg7 Bxf5 28. Bh6 f6 29. Nxf6+ Kf7 30. Qe5 Kg6 31. Bxf8 Qxf8 32. Nd7 Qd8 33. Re3 Bxh3 34. Qe4+ Kh6 35. Ne5 Qd1+ 36. Re1 Qd2 37. gxh3 Nxh3+ 38. Kh2 Qxf2+ 39. Kh1 Neg5 40. Qe3 Qf5 41. Kh2 Nf4 42. Kg3 Nge6 43. Ng4+ Kg5 44. Qe5 Nd3 45. Qxf5+ Kxf5 46. Re3 Nec5 47. Kf3 h5 48. Nh6+ Kg6 49. N g8 Kf7 50. Ne7 Nb4 51. Re2 Ne6 52. Ke4 Kxe7 53. Kf5 Kd7 54. Rd2+ Ke7 55. Re2 Kd7 56. Rxe6 Nxa2 57. Ke5 Nc1 58. Rd6+ Kc7 59. b4 Na2 60. Rd4 Kb6 61. Rf4 Kc6 62. Ke6 Nc1 63. Rd4 Na2 64. Rd6+ Kc7 65. Rd7+ Kb6 66. Rd6+ draw agreed.