The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sasikiran finishes joint first

Esbjerg (Denmark): Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran finished the 18th North Sea Cup international chess tournament with a big bang, outsmarting local stalwart Curt Hansen in the final round and propelling himself to a shared first place here.

Top seed GM Alexey Dreev of Russia and British sensation Luke McShane tied for the top spot along with Sasikiran, all tallying an identical 6.5 points out of a possible nine in this category 15 event as per Fide charts.

Hansen amassed just 4.5 points for a fourth place finish. Peter Heine Nielsen of Denmark, Cuban Lenier Dominiguez and Michal Krasenkow of Poland had to be content with joint fifth place with 4 points apiece. Indiaís Koneru Humpy finished at the bottom with 2 points, having played the maximum number of 7 decisive games, losing six and winning one.

Krasenkow was looking for a victory but his efforts went in vain as Lars Schandorff played solidly to force a draw in 48 moves, while Bruzon Lazaro and Dominiguez played just eight moves before splitting the point.

The last round had little excitement other than Sasikiranís game, the only deciding match of the day. Sasikiran put up a brave front to put it across Hansen after the two overnight leaders, Dreev and McShane, played out a quick 12-move draw amongst themselves to secure the first place.

Sasikiran showed steely nerves in the middle game arising out of the capablanca variation of the Nimzo Indian defence with white pi-eces. The opening gave Sasikiran double bishop advantage but Hansen maintained the balance by keeping his position intact on both wings.

Desperate for a win after his defeat in the previous round saw him slip to third place, Sasikiran went for a dynamic set-up with chances for both sides but blundered on the 28th move. However, Hansen missed out on a simple tactic that would have at least salvaged the day and instead lost material.

Once on top, Sasikiran commanded the proceedings in copybook fashion and romped home in 40 moves for his first title triumph in a tournament of this stature.

The second-highest rated Indian after Viswanathan Anand is expected to gain more than ten Elo rating points from this tournament, which will take him nearer to the magical figure of 2700. If he does eventually touch 2700, Sasikiran will be the second Indian to do that.

Humpy ended her campaign with a draw against Nielsen who played black. Humpy employed the classical set-up with intentions of launching a minority attack on the queen side in a queenís gambit declined variation and never let the position slip out of hands.

Nielsen tried to make some headway on the king side but subsequent exchanges subsided the tension. The game lasted 27 moves. Humpy, the youngest woman to have clinched the menís GM title, had a miserable tournament and is certain to lose valuable rating points.

Whatís worse for the youngster, those who claim that Humpyís success is bigger than her potential, will start criticising her.

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