Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Gil Popilski of Israel in the third round of Poker Masters Isle of Man International Chess tournament here today.

Playing black, Gupta lost from a position of strength going wrong in a tactical middle game, and will now have to find a way back in the tournament with six rounds still remaining.

Grandmaster Maxime Vachier Lagrave of France jumped into sole lead at the expense of Daniel Gormally of England. With his third victory in as many games, Lagrave maintained a clean slate and is followed by seven players with 2.5 points apiece.

The other Indian in the fray, D Harika, was also shocked by Alan Merry in this round. Harika succumbed to complications where she could not wriggle out of a passive position and remained on 1.5 points from three outings.

Gupta is on joint ninth spot with two points and will meet Ori Kobo in the next round. While the game between Popilski and Gupta in Durban 10 days ago had ended in a draw, the Indian had prepared well and got a good position out of his Grunfeld defense this time.

Popilski however continued with his fighting chess and posed some tactical problems and it was here that Gupta faltered. Missing out on a massive attack launched at his king, Gupta accepted a piece sacrifice from Popilski which proved disastrous. The technicalities thereafter were not a major issue for the Israeli player.

Harika fell prey to some disguised manoeuvres out of a French Winawer game by transposition. Harika went for a variation which offers counter play with black pieces but her plan misfired as Merry was well prepared. Winning a pawn and converting to an endgame, the English player won without much ado.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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