Lahno sweeps Negi in rapid games

12/24/2006 – After finishing the Classical Chess section of their match in New Delhi with a narrow 3.5:2.5 victory Ukraine star Kateryna Lahno started the rapid section with a 3:0 sweep over the world's youngest grandmaster Parimarjan Negi. Katya now needs three points from the remaining three rapid and six blitz games to take the Rs. 300,000 prize fund. 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 five

Kateryna maintains lead after another hard fought draw

2005 European Women's champion Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine again held on to her own and drew a difficult fifth game against World's youngest Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi in the Amity Grandmasters Challenge here at the Russian Cultural Center. The fourth draw in five games so far in the match helped Kateryna retain her slender full point lead over Parimarjan and the score line now stands at 3-2 in favour of the Ukrainian who had won the second game of the 18-games match.


The players and their seconds arrive at the venue in New Delhi

For a change the surprise element in game five was in Parimarjan's favour as he uncorked the Spanish Opening instead of his usual Sicilian for the first time in the match. "It was not exactly a surprise, I was expecting this opening from Parimarjan, it was just a matter of when it would surface", Kateryna said soon after the game.

As it happened in the game, Kateryna appeared a bit unsure of herself in the early stages and that resulted in her getting a slightly worse position in the ensuing middle game. However the thing favouring the Ukrainian was again something that has been bothering Parimarjan since day one of the match – the clock. "I contemplated a lot as to where to put my pieces in the early middle game and used up a lot of time", said Parimarjan feeling that he would do better with more time left for the final stages of the game.

As the game progressed Kateryna lost a pawn but the position offered a lot of possibilities to convert to a level endgame that she precisely achieved at the first opportunity. The peace was signed in an opposite coloured Bishops endgame after 66 moves. "Ok I was worse for some time but it is not so clear for him to achieve much from the position, I always had some chances, I would rather say that it was another tough game".

Lahno,Kateri (2459) - Negi,P (2538) [C77]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (5), 21.12.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.c3 g6 7.Bg5 Bg7 8.Nbd2 h6 9.Bh4 0-0 10.Nf1 b5 11.Bb3 Be6 12.Ne3 Qd7 13.Bc2 d5 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.exd5 Bxd5 16.Nxd5 Qxd5 17.Bb3 Qd6 18.Qe2 Na5 19.Bc2 Bg7 20.a3 Nb7 21.h4 Nc5 22.0-0 Rad8 23.Rad1 Rfe8 24.Rfe1 Qc6 25.Nd2 Ne6 26.Qf3 Qxf3 27.Nxf3 Nf4 28.g3 Nd5 29.Re2 Re7 30.Rde1 Rde8 31.Nd2 Kf8 32.Ne4 c6 33.h5 f5 34.Nc5 gxh5 35.Nxa6 Bf6 36.Nc5 h4 37.Kh2 Rg7 38.c4 Nc7 39.gxh4 Rd8 40.Rg1 Rd4 41.Rxg7 Kxg7 42.cxb5 cxb5 43.Bb3 Rxh4+ 44.Kg2 Rd4 45.Rc2 Kg6 46.a4 bxa4 47.Bxa4 Be7 48.b3 Nd5 49.Ne6 Rxd3 50.Be8+ Kh7 51.Ra2 Rxb3 52.Ra5 Rb6 53.Rxd5 Rxe6 54.Bd7 Rg6+ 55.Kf1 Rd6 56.Bxf5+ Kg7 57.Rxd6 Bxd6 58.Kg2 Kf6 59.Be4 Kg5 60.Kh3 Kf4 61.f3 Be7 62.Bc6 Bf6 63.Be4 h5 64.Bc6 h4 65.Be4 Be7 66.Bc6 ½-½ [Click to replay]

Game six

Kateryna escapes checkmate to maintain lead

Riding high her on her luck, Kateryna Lahno escaped a certain checkmate against world's youngest grandmaster Parimarjan Negi of India in the sixth game of the Amity Grandmasters Challenge at Russian Cultural Centre, here today.

Sticking to her trusted Ruy Lopez, Kateryna found herself in a spot of bother early for the first time in the Arkhengelsk variation. Parimarjan went for the blood in his hunt for the elusive victory and the determination was evident from his body language.


Grim determination by Parimarjan in game six

Kateryna traded her light colored bishop early for Parimarjan knight, and by the first hour of play for herself in a tight spot. Pressure told on the leader, as she clearly missed Parimarjan intermezzo on the 19th move as he crashed his bishop against a defending kingside pawn.


"I was lucky" said opponent Kateryna Lahno

It turned the tide clearly against Kateryna as Parimarjan took the upper hand marshalling his rook, bishop and knight in cornering the black king. However by this time, Parimarjan was in time pressure and his attempt to finish the game in one-go did not yield dividends. As luck would have had it, Parimarjan missed a checkmate in six moves, that was confirmed by chess program Fritz while looking for something decisive.

Negi,P (2538) - Lahno,Kateri (2459) [C78]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (6), 22.12.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Bc5 6.c3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 0-0 11.a5 Rb8 12.d3 Nd7 13.Nd2 Ne7 14.Qe2 Kh8 15.Nf3 h6 16.d4 Ba7 17.dxe5 dxe5 18.Rd1 Ng6 19.Bxh6 gxh6 20.Qd2 Nf4 21.Qxd7 Qf6 22.Qf5 Qxf5 23.exf5 Rg8 24.Nxe5 Rxg2+ 25.Kh1 Rxf2 26.Rd7 Rxb2 27.Bxf7 Ne2?

28.Rg1? The mate which Fritz shows instantly is 28.Ng6+ Kg7 29.f6+ Kxf6 30.Rf1+ Bf2 31.Rxf2+ Nf4 32.Rxf4+ Kg7 33.Be8+ Kg8 34.Rf8#."Oh", was the natural response coming from the student of Amity International School in Saket. He had not realized he was so closed to victory, "I had a feeling there should be something decisive but I simply did not think about the forced winning sequence", Parimarjan said after the game. The ensuing melee saw pieces traded in a heap, and the rook and knight versus two rooks offered nothing more than a draw for Parimarjan. The players repeated the king and knight moves, settling for their fourth consecutive draw in the match. The game was over in 39 moves: 28...Bxg1 29.Be6 Ng3+ 30.Kxg1 Ne2+ 31.Kf2 Nf4+ 32.Ke3 Nxe6 33.fxe6 Re8 34.Nf7+ Kg8 35.Nxh6+ Kh8 36.Nf7+ Kg8 37.Nh6+ Kh8 38.Nf7+ Kg8 39.Nh6+ ½-½ [Click to replay]

"Kateryna was lucky to escape a certain defeat" said her coach Grandmaster Ruslan Scherbakov adding "it is not difficult to miss such checkmates but then I have seen it so many times". Kateryna explained everything in just four words. "I was very lucky", she said.

Final standing of the Classical Chess phase:

The match now moves on to the second phase, as the players cross swords in six rapid games starting Friday. The final with six blitz games will be played on the Christmas day.


Day one of Rapid Chess games

Kateryna sweeps rapid, increases lead

Showcasing her best talent in Rapid chess, Woman Grandmaster Kateryna Lahno marched way ahead of World's youngest GM Parimarjan Negi after scoring three straight victories in the Amity Grandmasters Challenge at Russian Cultural Centre, here Saturday. As a result of this outburst by the Ukrainian, Parimarjan, with just 2.5 points at the half way stage of this 18-games match, will now have to focus real hard if he has to retain any hopes of winning the title in this Rs. 500,000 prize money event. As of now, the score line stands at 6.5-2.5 in favour of Kateryna and she now needs just three points out of remaining nine games to win Rs. 300,000 winner's purse.

It was the first rapid game that had a big say in the happenings of the day. In this Giuoco Piano game, Parimarjan had Kateryna in all sorts of troubles, and had a good advantage coming into the middle game. However, a series of erroneous moves, along with some good counter attack by the Ukraine girl, turned the tide as Kateryna turned an inferior position into a full point after 65 moves.

Lahno,Kateri (2459) - Negi,P (2538) [C54]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (7), 23.12.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 a6 6.Nbd2 0-0 7.Bb3 Ba7 8.0-0 d6 9.h3 Nh5 10.Re1 Qf6 11.Nf1 Nf4 12.Ng3 g6 13.Be3 h5 14.d4 Nd8 15.d5 Bd7 16.Rc1 a5 17.a3 a4 18.Ba2 Bc5 19.Kh2 g5 20.Nd4 h4 21.Nh5 Qh6 22.Nxf4 gxf4 23.Nf5 Bxf5 24.Bxc5 Bd7 25.Bb4 f6 26.Bc4 Kh8 27.Be2 Rg8 28.Bg4 Qg7 29.Rg1 Bxg4 30.Qxg4 Qxg4 31.hxg4 Rxg4 32.Kh3 Rg5 33.c4 b6 34.g3 hxg3 35.fxg3 fxg3 36.Bd2 Rh5+ 37.Kxg3 Nf7 38.Kg4 Rh2 39.Rh1 Rg8+ 40.Kf5 Rgg2 41.Kxf6 Kg8 42.Ke7 Rxh1 43.Rxh1 Nh8 44.Bb4 Rg7+ 45.Kd8 Ng6 46.Rg1 Kh7 47.Rh1+ Kg8 48.Rg1 Kh7 49.Rh1+ Kg8 50.Kc8 Nf4 51.c5 dxc5 52.Bc3 Nd3 53.Rh5 Re7 54.Kd8 Rg7 55.Bxe5 Rg4 56.Ke7 Nxe5 57.Rxe5 c4 58.Kd7 Rg2 59.Kxc7 Rxb2 60.d6 c3 61.d7 Rd2 62.d8Q+ Rxd8 63.Kxd8 c2 64.Rg5+ Kf7 65.Rg1 1-0 [Click to replay]

The second game of the day was quite unusual as Parimarjan went for a wrong plan early in the game itself leading to a much worse endgame. The Spanish opening has been the flavour of this match and Kateryna yet again used a familiar set up that eventually came out good. Parimarjan resigned when he could no longer match menacing black pawns. The game lasted 49 moves.

Negi,P (2538) - Lahno,Kateri (2459) [C78]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (8), 23.12.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Bc5 6.c3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Bg4 9.a5 0-0 10.h3 Bh5 11.d3 d5 12.Qe2 Qd6 13.Bg5 d4 14.c4 Bb4 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.cxb5 axb5 17.Bd5 Bxf3 18.Qxf3 Qxf3 19.gxf3 Rxa5 20.Nd2 Ne7 21.Rxa5 Bxa5 22.Nb3 Bb6 23.Bb7 Rb8 24.Ra1 Kf8 25.Na5 Bxa5 26.Rxa5 Ng6 27.Bc6 Nf4 28.Bxb5 Nxh3+ 29.Kf1 Nf4 30.b3 Ke7 31.Bc4 f6 32.Kg1 h5 33.Kh2 h4 34.Ra4 Kd6 35.Ra6+ Rb6 36.Ra8 Kc5 37.Rc8 c6 38.Rc7 Kb4 39.Rxg7 Kc3 40.Rf7 c5 41.Rc7 Nxd3 42.Kg2 Nf4+ 43.Kg1 Kb4 44.Kf1 h3 45.Kg1 Rd6 46.Rb7+ Kc3 47.Rb5 Rc6 48.Rb8 d3 49.Rd8 d2 0-1 [Click to replay]

The ninth game of the match and third of the day also fell Ukrainian way as Kateryna used her positional acumen to come out triumph. The fourth victory by Kateryna was the easiest so far in the match with Parimarjan admitting he was not able to see much. "I did not do well today, especially in the second and the third game", the 13-years old candidly admitted.

Lahno,Kateri (2459) - Negi,P (2538) [C77]
Amity GM Challenge New Delhi IND (9), 23.12.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 7.c3 0-0 8.Nbd2 d5 9.0-0 dxe4 10.dxe4 Bc5 11.Qe2 Qd6 12.Nh4 Bg4 13.Ndf3 Nh5 14.Bg5 Nf4 15.Bxf4 exf4 16.h3 Be6 17.Rad1 Qe7 18.Bd5 Bxd5 19.Rxd5 g6 20.Qd2 Bd6 21.Re1 f6 22.a4 bxa4 23.Qc2 a3 24.bxa3 Bxa3 25.Qa4 Ne5 26.Nxe5 fxe5 27.Nf3 Bd6 28.c4 Qg7 29.c5 Be7 30.Nxe5 Rfd8 31.Qc4 Kf8 32.Red1 a5 33.Nc6 Re8 34.Rd7 Qf7 35.Qd4 Qf6 36.Rxe7 Qxd4 37.Rxe8+ Kxe8 38.Nxd4 a4 39.Nb5 Ra5 40.Nxc7+ Kf7 41.Nd5 Rxc5 42.Nxf4 a3 43.Ra1 Rc3 44.Kf1 Rb3 45.Ke2 Kf6 46.Nd3 1-0 [Click to replay]

Total score after Classical Chess and three rapid games

Reports and pictures provided by Vishal Sareen

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