Chess World Cup | India’s challenge ends as V Gujrathi and SP Sethuraman bow out

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Chess World Cup | India’s challenge ends as V Gujrathi and SP Sethuraman bow out

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SportsCafe Desk


While Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi lost to China's Ding Liren, Sethuraman Panayappan Sethuraman was ousted by Holland’s Anish Giri in the tie-break games of the third-round. The round also saw the shocking elimination of tournament favourites like Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura.

Grandmasters Vidit Gujrathi and SP Sethuraman were the only hope remaining for India’s contingent in the World Cup as their poor start to the campaign had already seen the likes of Viswanathan Anand, B Adhiban, P Harikrishna, Murali Karthikeyan and Deep Sengupta, getting eliminated.

While Sethuraman was quite close in advancing to the pre-quarters, he was unfortunate in the game under normal time control. After Holland’s Anish Giri had won the first game, Sethuraman had instantly equalized in the second. But, it was the 10-minute game event where Giri looked sharper than his Indian counterpart. He first won with the white piece quite comfortably and then had his perfect plan executed to find the counter play and win the next game as black.

For Gujrathi, the match looked tough in the rapid tie-break games. He did well to win the first game and looked in a comfortable position in the second one before China’s Ding Liren engineered a good plan. The game was still in the balance then with Gujrathi, who has been at his peak in this world cup, being the favourite. However, things just didn’t go India’s way as the Chinese, quite competently, converted his extra material into a full point, winning by 1.5-2.5 margin.

India’s V. Anand can still manage to find a place in next year’s Candidates’ Tournament though if he manages to get a wild card entry.

The biggest upsets of the third round were, however, the ousting of major contenders like Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik and United States’ Hikaru Nakamura.

It was always going to be difficult for Carlsen to win with black on demand, following his shocking defeat against China’s BU Xiangzhi in the last round. The 31-year-old Chinese had nothing at stake and pulled off a comfortable draw with the white to progress to the next round.

The more shocking exit was the elimination of the Russian from the world cup. Kramnik was playing against Ukraine’s Vassily Ivanchuk, who did magnificently to get the better of him, reminding the audience of his abilities. Nakamura was playing against Russia’s Vladimir Fedoseev and had one of those bad days that he would want to leave behind as soon as possible. 

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