New Delhi, June 27: After five grueling rounds, it was a case of well-earned rest for the six Grandmasters assembled for the inaugural AAI Grandmasters Chess Championships that is now halfway through.
The Grandmasters met up with a group of young chess players from the city and interacted with them, giving them useful tips and also encouraging them. “I am very happy to see so many youngsters keen on learning and improving in the game,” said the World Junior No. 1 Fabiano Caruana of Italy.
India’s senior player, Krishnan Sasikiran added, “Chess has become popular and the addition of tournament like the AAI Grandmasters event will mean more interest and better results for Indian chess.”
The Indians have had mixed luck so far with Sasikiran having rebounded after his first two losses with three wins in a row, but young National champion, Parimarjan Negi has managed only 1.5 points with one win and one draw and suffered three losses in five rounds.
Sasi said, “I am not fully satisfied with the quality of my game, but now with a plus one I hope to build on it and do better. I am playing Category 17 tournament after a long time and the more I play the better it is. Playing Closed events like this with highly rated players is always different from Open events where the initial opponents are weak. Here every player is very strong.”
The other Indian challenger, Negi, added, “I am beginning well but have not been able to keep up the tempo. I need to concentrate more. But I am not putting any extra pressure on myself.”
The tournament leader, Fabiano Caruana, who has won three games and drawn two and is the only unbeaten player in the tournament is confident of maintaining his form. “I will not say I have been playing brilliant chess, but I have been happy with some of my games. Hopefully I will do better with white pieces in the second half. But I must say I am enjoying the tournament and the interest it has created in Delhi,” said Caruana.
Women’s World champion Hou Yifan has been disappointing with four losses in five games. The teenager smiled and said, “I am hoping I can improve in second half after the rest.”
Caruana leads with four points while Laznicka is second with 3.5 points. Sunday’s win with black for Sasikiran from a Ruy Lopez in 56 moves brought him to three points and that must seem a big relief after two losses at the start. Wesley So has 2.5 points, Negi 1.5 and Hou Yifan has half a point.
After the rest day on Monday, the sixth round will be played at 2 pm on Tuesday.
Points after five rounds:
4 points – Caruana
3.5 – Laznicka
3 – Sasikiran
2.5 – Wesley So
1.5 – Negi
0.5 – Yifan
Draw for sixth round: F Caruana v Negi P; V Laznicka v H Yifan; K Sasikiran v W So