Indian Grandmaster S P Sethuraman went down to higher ranked Shakhriayar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan in the first game of the third round of World Cup of Chess now underway in Baku.
Sethuraman, the only Indian left in the fray, had ousted the likes of Sanan Sjugirov of Russia and compatriot P Harikrishna in first two rounds, but he now finds himself in a must-win situation in the second game to level scores and stretch the match to tie-break stage to enter the round of 16 in the $ 1.6 million event.
Mamedyarov, to his credit, excelled in all departments of the game while Sethuraman had his chances to look for better equalising options.
The Azerbaijani is known for his uncompromising approach that netted him two world junior titles and on this day too, he decided to start with the English opening and quickly changed gears to a Ponov Botvinnik attack known fully well that was not Sethuraman's opening.
The game progressed with an early trade of queens, the position looking nearly equal but Mamedyarov had that slight lead in development advantage, often crucial in such circumstances.
Fighting well for a long time, Sethuraman finally allowed massive complexities to white's advantage through an exchange sacrifice. Mamedyarov won a pawn in the endgame that ensued and waited for Sethuraman to make that final mistake.
The Azerbaijani was rewarded on move 40 and on the next move Sethuraman was forced to resign.
There were just four decisive games out of a possible 12 in the first game of the third round. Fabiano Caruana of United States took an early lead against Canadian Anton Kovalyov while Sergey Karjakin of Russia continued his rampage against Chinese at the expense of Yangyi Yu.
Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine was the other winner of the day winning with black against Alexander Grischuk of Russia. Of all the decisive games, Eljanov was the lone lower ranked player to score a victory and considering that it came with black pieces, the Ukrainian might be on his way to seal a place in last-16 stage. The remaining 12 games of the day ended in draws.
The World Cup of chess, a part of the next World Championship cycle, started with 128 players but is now down to 32. There are two games under normal time control in each round except the final that has four games. After normal games, games of shorter time control are played to determine the winner.