The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Three-way lead after Round II

Hastings: Top seed Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran settled for an easy draw against compatriot GM Pentyala Harikrishna in the second round of the Hastings International Chess ConGress here on Monday.

The second day of the event witnessed three decisive games out of five as GM Keith Arkell of England and Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia joined Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen at the top of table.

The three leaders have 1.5 points apiece, followed by Sasikiran, Harikrishna, Sergey Karjakin of the Ukraine and GM Alexei Barsov of Uzbekistan with one point each.

After a very eventful first round game against Kosteniuk that ended in a draw, Sasikiran playing black did not opt for any unwarranted complications against Harikrishna who opened with the queen pawn.

The game took shape on less trodden paths after the opening and Harikrishna emerged with a miniscule advantage, controlling the queenside. Sasikiran sensed some danger and went on an exchanging spree that led the game to a queen and pawns endgame almost by force. With no chances for either player remaining, draw was agreed to after 37 moves.

The hero of the day, though, was 12-year-old Karjakin who outsmarted GM Glenn Flear of England in a theoretically drawn endgame. Karjakin, the youngest-ever participant in the traditional Hastings premier, bounced back in to contention after losing the first game rather tamely against Nielsen.

Kosteniuk also put up an inspired performance and defeated compatriot veteran GM Vitaly Tseshkovsky with elegant handling of a tense middle game. Counting on his vast experience, Tseshkovsky side stepped from established theoretical variations and got some space advantage in the beginning.

Kosteniuk used her resources on the queenside and got her share of counter play and was apparently ready for a draw as the queen-less middle game position repeated twice. However, Tseshkovsky refused the unconditional offer and blundered on his 40th turn to find his knight trapped on the eighth rank.

Arkell accounted for world junior silver medallist Luke McShane with the white pieces. This one too was fought on less explored opening moves and Arkell took advantage of an endgame inaccuracy to romp home in 65 moves. (PTI)

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