Kateryna holds her lead in Amity Challenge

12/20/2006 – It isn't easy to take on the hottest boy prodigy in the business in his home town of Delhi when he is being trained by one of your own grandmasters. Ukrainian star Kateryna Lahno drew first blood in game two and had to fight hard to maintain her lead in the next two games. This is turning out to be an exciting match. Big pictorial report by Vishal Sareen.

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The Amity Grandmasters Challenge

The Amity Grandmasters Challenge between Parimarjan Negi and Kateryna Lahno is taking place from December 17 to 25, 2006 in Delhi, India. There are six games under FIDE time control, then six rapid games and finally six blitz games. The winner will be decided on the basis of accumulated results. The prize fund is Rs. 300,000 for the winner and Rs. 200,000 for the loser (which translates to a total prize fund of just over US $11,000 or € 8,500).

Schedule of the Amity Grandmasters Challenge
Day 1 Sat. Dec. 16 3:00 p.m. Inauguration ceremony and simuls
Day 2 Sun. Dec. 17 2:30 p.m. Game 1 FIDE time controls
Day 3 Mon. Dec. 18 2:30 p.m. Game 2 FIDE time controls
Day 4 Tues. Dec. 19 2:30 p.m. Game 3 FIDE time controls
Day 5 Wed. Dec. 20 2:30 p.m. Game 4 FIDE time controls
Day 6 Thurs. Dec. 21 2:30 p.m. Game 5 FIDE time controls
Day 7 Fri. Dec. 22 2:30 p.m. Game 6 FIDE time controls
Day 8 Sat. Dec. 23 2:30 p.m. Three rapid games 25' + 10"
Day 9 Sun. Dec. 24 2:30 p.m.. Three rapid games 25' + 10"
Day 10 Mon. Dec. 25 2:30 p.m. Six blitz games, closing ceremony

Game three

Kateryna holds Parimarjan, maintains lead

2005 European Women Champion Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine maintained her lead, holding World's youngest Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi to a draw in the third game of the Amity Grandmasters Challenge at Russian Cultural Centre here on Tuesday.

With the draw, Kateryna maintains a 2-1 lead over Parimarjan with fifteen games still to come in the 18 games match being played under FIDE time control, rapid and blitz. It may be recalled that Kateryna had won the second game of the match with the black pieces, while the remaining two games thus far being draws.


The Trainers: Katya's trainer GM Ruslan Scherbakov of Ukraine meets the hostile forces: Parimarjan and his trainer, Alexander Goloshchapov from Ukraine (!)

After a disastrous loss in the previous round, Parimarjan was more composed coming to the third game and stuck to the Sicilian Najdorf that had given him some problems in the first round. Kateryna showcased her deep opening preparation in the beginning and blitzed out the first 12 moves in quick time. Parimarjan was also quite up to the task and found just about the right way to complicate the position as he had desired.


The third game, Kateryna vs Parimarjan, Lahno vs Negi, is under way

"It was quite an interesting position that we got in the middle game but my problem was I had used up more time than her", said Parimarjan who fell under time pressure as the game geared to its final stage.

Kateryna felt the pressure after Parimarjan sacrificed a pawn in the center looking for ways to find flaws in white's position. Determined not to let anything slip, Kateryna went for heaps of exchanges leading to an opposite coloured bishop position. "I missed some good moves that she played and was quite unsettled at one point", Parimarjan said matter of factly after the game.

The exchange of queens on the 31st move left Kateryna fighting for an advantage, as she even spurned a draw proposal, but a timely exchange sacrifice kept Parimarjan in the game. Realising that her advantage was not enough for the victory, Kateryna liquidated to a theoretically drawn endgame and the draw was agreed to after 43 moves.


European Women's Champion vs boy wonder from India

Parimarjan drew praise from Kateryna's trainer Ruslan Scherbakov. "I think Parimarjan played quite well today, I thought Kateryna was slightly worse at some point but then under time pressure he made some mistakes", Scherbakov said. Speaking about this stage of the match Kateryna said, "things are ok up till now, but there are so many games left. It's going to be tough".

Lahno,Kateri (2459) - Negi,P (2538) [B92]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (3), 19.12.2006
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Re1 Be6 10.Bf3 Nbd7 11.a4 Nb6 12.Nd2 Rc8 13.a5 Nc4 14.Nxc4 Rxc4 15.Be3 Qd7 16.Qd3 Rfc8 17.Red1 h6 18.Bb6 d5 19.exd5 Bf5 20.Qe3 Qd6 21.Re1 e4 22.Rad1 Rb4 23.Be2 Rxb2 24.Bd4 Rxc2 25.Bxf6 Bxf6 26.Nxe4 Bxe4 27.Qxe4 R2c5 28.h4 Bc3 29.Rf1 Qe5 30.Qf3 Qf6 31.d6 Qxf3 32.Bxf3 Rd8 33.Bxb7 Bxa5 34.d7 Rc7 35.Bc8 Bb4 36.Rc1 Rcxd7 37.Bxd7 Rxd7 38.g3 h5 39.Rc4 a5 40.Rb1 g6 41.Kg2 Kg7 42.Rcxb4 axb4 43.Rxb4 Kf6 ½-½ [Click to replay]


Game four

Kateryna holds lead after another draw

World's youngest Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi tried hard but 2005 European Women's champion Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine stuck to her task, drawing the fourth game of the Amity Grandmasters Challenge here at Russian Center.


Parimarjan arrives at the venue with father J. B. Singh and second Alexander Goloshchapov


Kateryna arrives with her trainer GM Ruslan Scherbakov for the match


"You think he will play 1.e4?" – a brief discussion before the start of the game

With the draw, Kateryna maintained her slender full point lead in the match. Contrary to popular belief that pegged Parimarjan a clear favourite for this match, Kateryna has proved that she is a tough nut to crack. Wednesday was no different even as Kateryna was pushed to the wall, living dangerously while playing lively chess.


Game four under way

The opening was a repeat of the second game – the Archangelsk Variation wherein both players blitzed out the by-hearted opening moves in quick time. Apparently Kateryna was better prepared coming in to the match as she uncorked an unusual idea on her 14th move after sacrificing a pawn, forcing Parimarjan to go into a long think that resulted in the latter eventually running short of time.

"Let this our little secret, of course we had some analysis of this position", Kateryna's trainer Ruslan Scherbakov said soon after the game.


Parimarjan's father J B Singh with Dr. Ashok Chauhan Founder President Amity and Chairperson Amity Dr. (Mrs.) Amita Chauhan


In the audience: (l to r) Mr. C S Sharma (Botvinnik Chess Academy), Mr. R K Bagrodia (Bhilwara group), Mr. L N Jhunjhunwala (Chairman LNJ Bhilwara group of Industries)

Surprise notwithstanding, Parimarjan enjoyed an excellent position with some sound positional moves and gave back the extra material he had for positional activity. "Ok I was better for quite some time but again used up a lot of time on the clock. I had an extra pawn coming in to the endgame with reasonable winning chances but then I played some inaccurate moves leading to a forced draw", Parimarjan said.


Let's see what Fritzy thinks – Kateryna checks her moves after the game

Kateryna bounced back in the game in the endgame only, recovering her pawn back and trading almost all pieces to secure a half point. The longest game of the match thus far lasted 57 moves. "It was a very tough game for me, the Ukrainian said, adding "I was worse all along but possibly it is not easy for Parimarjan to convert his advantage also". When asked if she was satisfied with the way things had gone so far the young lady candidly admitted, "its ok so far".


Pari-Fans: admirers and wellwishers gather around their hero after game four


"'For Galactic Super Hero?' No, tell me your real name." Autograph hunters

The fifth game of the match will be played on Thursday. There are two more games under FIDE time control left before the players shift to faster versions of the game – rapid and blitz chess.

Negi,P (2538) - Lahno,Kateri (2459) [C78]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (4), 20.12.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.axb5 axb5 11.Qd3 0-0 12.Bg5 h6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Qxb5 Na7 15.Qa4 g5 16.Nbd2 g4 17.dxe5 dxe5 18.Ne1 Nc6 19.Bd5 Ne7 20.Nc4 c6 21.Nxb6 Rxb6 22.Bc4 Rxb2 23.Nd3 Rd2 24.Ra2 Rxa2 25.Qxa2 Ng6 26.f3 gxf3 27.Rxf3 Qe7 28.Qf2 Kg7 29.Nb4 Bd7 30.Qa7 Be8 31.Qxe7 Nxe7 32.Nd3 f5 33.exf5 e4 34.Re3 Nxf5 35.Rxe4 Nd6 36.Rg4+ Kf6 37.Bb3 Bg6 38.Rf4+ Ke7 39.Ne5 Be4 40.Rxf8 Kxf8 41.Ba4 Nb5 42.c4 Nd6 43.Kf2 Ke7 44.Bb3 c5 45.g3 Ke6 46.Ng4 h5 47.Ne3 Ke5 48.Bd1 Bg6 49.Kf3 Kd4 50.Kf4 Nxc4 51.Nxc4 Kxc4 52.Kg5 Be8 53.g4 hxg4 54.Bxg4 Kd3 55.h4 c4 56.h5 Bxh5 ½-½ [Click to replay]

Reports and pictures provided by Vishal Sareen

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