Gopal beats Speelman, joint third now in Gibraltar Chess

From Our Chess Correspondent

Gibraltar, Feb 3 (PTI) Grandmaster G N Gopal put itacross Jon Speelman of England and jumped to the joint thirdspot after the end of the ninth and penultimate round of theTradewise Gibraltar Chess festival here.

The victory, coming with black pieces put Gopal in a goodposition in the 1,26,000 prize money event as the Indian willtake on Salome Melia of Georgia in the final round with whitepieces.

Meanwhile, it continued to be a two-way race for thetitle as top seeded Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk showcased hissuperior understanding to beat young GM Fabianoa Caruana ofItaly to remain at the helm with a remarkable eight points outof a possible nine.

Ivanchuk continued to enjoy a half point lead over NigelShort of England who also won a fine game against VictorMikhalevsky of Israel.

It''s a 10-way tie for the third spot on 6.5 points andbesides Gopal, Harikrishna is the other Indian in contentionfor a podium finish. In the ninth round game, Harikrishna washeld to a draw by Melia.

Among other Indians in the fray, top-rated IndianKrishnan Sasikiran played out a draw with Daniel Fridman ofGermany while Deep Sengupta achieved the same result againstVyacheslav Ikonikov of Russia.

The lone Indian GM to face a defeat was Sandipan Chandawho went down to Spanish Alexis Cabrera and D Harika did wellto hold GM Girogi Kacheishvili of Georgia to a draw.

Attaining good results towards the end of the tournamentwere Arghyadip Das who outwitted Ruben Felgaer of Argentina,Vaibhav Suri who won as black against Garcia Jimenez FranciscoJavie of Spain and Eesha Karavade, who proved too good againstThomas Becker of Germany.

Sasikiran, Sengupta, Das and Harika are tied for the 13thspot on having six points apiece.

Gopal was in his elements against Speelman in anirregular queen pawn game. Playing white, Speelman fought hardfor an opening advantage but Gopal was well on his guard andwhen the English went for a positional exchange sacrifice itall turned out to be a wild game.

Gopal methodically placed his pieces on the correctsquares and wise declined a second exchange sacrifice bySpeelman before reaching a winning endgame. Speelman resignedafter 53 moves.

Harikrishna could not break the ice against solid play byMelia who played white. The Indian reached a rook and pawnsendgame with some chances for a victory but Melia played gooddefensive moves to restore parity.

There was a second power cut in the tournament thatlasted for around 45 minutes. The venue for the remaininggames by then had shifted to the commentary rooms. MORE PTICOR PM

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