Indian Grand Master Pentala Harikrishna staved off a staunch challenge from Cuban GM Yuri Gonzalez Vidal, defeating him in the tie-breaker to score three-and-half points to the Cuban’s two-and-half at the FIDE chess World Cup here.
The 20th seeded Indian started off the first rapid game with black pieces and had to settle for a draw against the Cuban. The next two rapid games yielded the same results for both the players who were not ready to give an inch of space to the other and crash out of the tournament.
Even though the fourth rapid game where Harikrishna was playing with white pieces started off on a defensive note, the Hyderabadi measured his moves precisely and eventually made inroads to put the Cuban under immense pressure midway into the game.
Thereafter, it was all about the Indian’s attacking prowess as he made Vidal succumb to the pressure and placed a check mate on the Cuban’s king after 46 moves.
“It was tough during the first three rapid games but after the 20th move in the fourth game, I got an advantage and kept the pressure on my opponent which gave me a win,” an ecstatic Harikrishna said after he progressed to the next round.
Harikrishna will face compatriot S.P. Sethuraman in his second round as he will look to up the ante as a spot at the Candidates’ remains up for grabs.