Kateryna leads in Amity Grandmasters Challenge

12/19/2006 – Looking stunning in a dark Indian sari Ukrainian chess star Kateryna Lahno showed that she is more than a pretty face. In the first game she had Indian chess prodigy GM Parimarjan Negi (13) on the ropes, but let him escape with a draw. In the second game Katya drew first blood with a fine black-pieces victory. 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 one

Negi survives a scare against Kateryna

World's youngest Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi survived a real scare against the 2005 European Women's Champion Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine in the first game of the Amity Grandmasters Challenge that got under way here at Russian Cultural Center.


Kateryna Lahno in an Indian sari with her opponent Parimarjan Negi and Amity dignitaries


Kateryna speaks to the Indian visitors and press


Advice to Kateryna: move to India, play for the national team, and always wear a sari. You can't do better than that. Advice to Pari: you look great in a blazer and school tie, but you need to watch out for surprises in the Sicilian.

The first of the six Classical games was an exciting affair as Parimarjan, black, faced an early opening surprise and was pushed to the wall by the wily Ukrainian girl. The match has got a very interesting format with classical, rapid and blitz games and the cumulative score after 18 games will decide the winner.


The start of game one between Katya Lahno and Parimarjan Negi

Soon after the game the look on Kateryna's face said it all. She knew she was better for the major part.

Earlier it was a predictable Sicilian Nazdorf by Parimarjan that gave Kateryna a huge positional advantage after an early surprise. The Indian talent sank in to a long thought and could not find the most appropriate way to equalize. "Parimarjan was just much worse after the opening, I would say he was lucky", Kateryna's coach GM Ruslan Scherbakov said soon after the game.


The boy grandmaster was soon under pressure from the Ukrainian star

Lahno was on top once she threw her knight deep into black territory with an attack on black queen. Parimarjan was glued to his chair from this moment on and really had to work hard to stay in the game. "She definitely had an advantage, but I don't think I was lost at any point, I was surprised by her choice of variation and I think I have to check the best replies", the student of Amity International School, Saket said.

As Parimarjan fought on vigorously, Lahno felt the heat and panicked into an exchange sequence that witnessed her advantage evaporating after nearly every move. Quickly moving into a rook and opposite color bishop ending, the players signed the peace treaty after 38 moves with just under two minutes remaining in their clock. "I think I was better for a long time but I am not sure where I went wrong", said Kateryna in the post match conference.


Kateryna and Parimarjan at the press conference

Earlier in the day the first move of the first game was made by Mr Sameer Salgaocar, Vice President, All India Chess Federation. "I think it was a very exciting game and I was thrilled to see both players playing an engrossing duel in the first game of the match itself. It promises to be a breakthrough in Indian chess", Mr. Salgaocar said after the game.


Advice to Katya: see above.

Founder President of Amity Mr. Ashok Kumar Chauhan and Chancellor Amity University Mr. Atul Chauhan was also present to witness the first game of the match.

Lahno,Kateri (2459) - Negi,P (2538) [B92]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (1), 17.12.2006
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 b6 10.Bg5 Bb7 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Bc4 Ra7 13.a4 Be7 14.Qd3 Nd7 15.Rad1 Nf6 16.Nd2 Qa8 17.Bb3 Bc6 18.Nc4 b5 19.Nb6 Qb8 20.axb5 Bxe4 21.Nxe4 Nxe4 22.Qxe4 Qxb6 23.bxa6 Rxa6 24.Ra1 g6 25.Qc4 Ra5 26.Rxa5 Qxa5 27.Rd1 Kg7 28.g3 h5 29.h4 Qc5 30.Qd5 Qxd5 31.Bxd5 Rb8 32.b3 Rc8 33.Bc4 Ra8 34.b4 Ra4 35.Rb1 d5 36.Bxd5 Rxb4 37.Rxb4 Bxb4 ½-½. [Click to replay]

Game two

Kateryna draws first blood; beats Parimarjan

Former European Women’s Champion Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine drew the first blood in the Amity Grandmasters Challenge defeating world’s youngest Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi with black pieces in the second classical game here at the Russian Center today.

The victory gave Lahno an early lead in the 18-games match and the result now stands at 1.5-0.5 in favour of the Ukrainian girl. 16 more games still played in the first of its kind event in India that will have six Fide time control, six rapid and six blitz games to determine the winner on cumulative score. The stakes are high with Rs. 300,000/- reserved for the winner and Rs. 200,000/- being the loser’s purse.


The start of game two

The second game was almost a replica of the first game wherein Kateryna had secured a strong initiative after the opening and blew it away. Parimarjan, as white in the second game, fell a step forward as he did not find the right moves after attaining a good advantage out of the opening.

Lahno’s opening surprise

The indications are that both players are out to get positions that the other is unfamiliar with. In the first game Kateryna largely succeeded in that but on Monday it was a different story. Parimarjan’s trainer for the match GM Alexander Goloshchapov of Ukraine confided that they had not prepared the Arkhengelsk variation that Lahno played as black in the second game.

However, Parimarjan had some ideas as he went about gobbling the gambit pawn in a different style and was soon on top according to the pundits of the game. “I was better after the opening but it was still quite complicated, towards the end of the middle game I made some decisive mistakes”, said Parimarjan in the post game conference.


Ukrainian determination

As it happened in the game, from a pawn plus position Parimarjan wasted a few moves with his queen unsure of his prospects and Kateryna bounced back with some imaginative attacking moves that cast the dye in her favour. Parimarjan lost a piece in the ensuing endgame and called it a day after 45 moves.

Kateryna was all smiles after her victory. When asked about if she played better or Parimarjan played badly the witty Ukrainian said: ”Normally your opponent has to play badly if you win a game. I think I was in troubles early but when he allowed me this dangerous attack I thought I was very much in the game, finally it was all fine”, said Kateryna.

Grandmaster Ruslan Scherbakov who is the trainer of Kateryna said, “Negi had a good position in the opening, but gave it away with giving back the extra pawn moving”.

The third game of the match will be played on Tuesday.

Negi,P (2538) - Lahno,Kateri (2459) [C78]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (2), 18.12.2006
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 Bd7 12.Na3 0-0 13.Bg5 h6 14.Bh4 Qe7 15.Rfe1 Bg4 16.Qxb5 Bxf3 17.Qxc6 g5 18.Bg3 Bg4 19.Qc4 Be6 20.d5 Bd7 21.Ba4 Bxa4 22.Qxa4 h5 23.h3 h4 24.Bh2 g4 25.Kh1 Bxf2 26.Re2 g3

White is being bottled in by the Unkrainian chess wizz. 27.Qd1 Bb6 28.Bg1 Bxg1 29.Kxg1 Nh5 30.Nc4 Ra8 31.Re1 Qg5 32.Qf3 Rxa1 33.Rxa1.


And Kateryna launches her final assault: 33...f5 34.exf5 Qxf5 35.Qxf5 Rxf5 36.Ne3 Rf2 37.Ra8+ Kg7 38.Ra7 Re2 39.Rxc7+ Kg6 40.Nf1 Nf4 41.Rc8 Rxg2+ 42.Kh1 Rf2 [Fritz says 42...Kg7 leads to a forced mate] 43.Nxg3 hxg3 44.Rg8+ Kf5 45.Rxg3 Rxb2 0-1. [Click to replay]

Reports and pictures provided by Vishal Sareen

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