Esbjerg (Denmark): GM Krishnan Sasikiran shot into sole lead with an emphatic victory over local favourite Lars Schandorff in the sixth round of the 18th North Sea Cup international chess tournament.
Sasikiran took his tally to five points and is followed by overnight joint leader Luke McShane of England who drew against Lenier Dominiguez of Cuba to move to 4.5. Three rounds remain in this ten-player round robin competition.
The sixth round produced four decisive games with top seed Alexey Dreev of Russia and Denmark’s Curt Hansen registering smooth victories over Denmark’s Peter Heine Nielsen and Poland’s Michal Krasenkow, respectively. Both moved to four points.
Indian GM Koneru Humpy ended her run of defeats, opening account with a win over a terribly off-form Bruzon Lazaro of Cuba, who suffered his third loss on the trot. Humpy must bag a few more points to avoid a big slump in ratings.
Sasikiran, McShane, Dreev and Hansen are in the race for the title in this category 15 tournament. Sasikiran is yet to play Hansen, Nielsen and Dreev. The top seed faces the other three in the top four.
For Sasikiran, it turned out to be another long and satisfying day in office. Playing black, the Chennai GM employed the Semi Slav Defence and faced little problem in getting a double-edged position with his compromising play in the early stages of the middle game.
Sensing trouble after Sasikiran effectively deployed pieces, which got him a passed pawn on the queenside, Schandorff went on an exchange spree in a bid to equalise. It cost him dear as the Indian put pressure on a weak pawn and snapped it after trading queens.
Humpy capitalised on Lazaro’s blunder. The Cuban, struggling here after a good start, handed Humpy a fair chance. The opening wasn’t smart and Humpy — with white — reached a balanced middle game. Lazaro made the decisive error on the 37th move and Humpy finished it off two moves later.
Hansen dominated all the way and made most of some lacklustre play by Krasenkow in the opening. Fighting out a relatively less played variation of the Grunfeld with black, Krasenkow got into trouble and the match over after 22 moves.
Playing black, Dreev faced the Classical Variation against his Caro Kann Defence and got a better endgame after Nielsen erred in exchanging pieces. The white forces were soon pinned down to the defence of a weak kingside pawn structure and Dreev tore open the queenside. The game lasted 40 moves.
McShane played out an uneventful draw with Dominiguez that lasted just 16 moves from a Ruy Lopez Opening.