| Sasikiran has bounced back into the reckoning
Copenhagen: Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran bounced back into reckoning with a finely-crafted victory over top seed Hikaru Nakamura of the US in the seventh round of the Sigeman and Co chess tournament here.
With his third win in seven games, Sasikiran took his tally to 5 points out of a possible seven and was just half a point behind tournament leader Jan Timman of the Netherlands, who drew his game with GM Sune Berg Hansen of Denmark.
With just two rounds remaining, Sasikiran threw the tournament wide open just when it appeared that Timman was running away with the top prize.
After the seventh round, Nakamura and Dane Curt Hansen occupied the third spot jointly on 4.5 points.
For Sasikiran, things might just work out fine if he could capitalise on his white pieces against an off-colour Swede Tiger Hillarp Persson in the penultimate round game as in the last round he has to play Timman.
The seventh round produced three decisive games out of five and coming closer to his final GM norm was International Master Davor Palo of Denmark, who gave an inspired performance to beat Viorel Iordachescu of Moldova.
The victory also helped Palo catch up with Iordachescu and they both now have 3.5 points apiece for the shared fifth spot.
It turned out to be a day full of surprises for Sasikiran, though the Indian deserved all the credit for keeping his poise and delivering the goods when it mattered.
Moving his queen out first and then the bishop in tandem, Nakamura threatened what is known as the 'fools mate'. Sasikiran effectively tackled it, but he still had a reasonable position in the middle game.
Once the game took shape in a tense middle game, the Indian had the dynamic balance that started tilting in his favour when he had his pieces firmly posted on both flanks.
Winning a sacrificed pawn on the 43rd move, Sasikiran displayed his technical prowess in the remaining part of the game with timely exchanges leading to a pawn plus endgame.
Nakamura still did not give up and banked his hopes on a piece sacrifice but an alert Sasikiran gave no chance. The marathon lasted 87 moves.
Timman drew with Sune Berg Hansen in quick time.
Arising out of a Berlin defence, the middle game did not pose much problem for Hansen as black. Timman also did not press too hard and signed peace after just 20 moves.
Palo showcased his positional acumen against Iordachescu, who is now out of race with his second successive loss.
Up against the queen's gambit declined, Palo ensured a slightly better endgame with quick exchanges leading to a queen and minor piece ending wherein a slightly wrecked pawn structure remained the cause of concern for Iordachescu.
Intermittent repetitions suiting to the classical time control helped Palo work out the winning plan quite easily and he knocked down one pawn before Iordachescu resigned on move 43.
In other games of the day, Curt Hansen drew an uneventful battle with Emil Hermansson of Sweden while Jonny Hector grounded compatriot Persson in 39 moves of a French defence game.