Indian Grandmasters R Praggnanandhaa and B Adhiban registered wins in the first game of the two-game mini match in the second round of the FIDE Chess World Cup on Thursday. Chennai lad Praggnanandha got the better of the experienced Gabriel Sargissian (Armenia) and Adhiban posted a crushing win over Neuris Delgado Ramirez in just 22 moves in the men’s event. GM P Iniyan lost the first game to higher-rated Evgeny Tomashevsky and Nihal Sarin settled for a draw in the opening game against Sanan Sjugirov (Russia).
Among other Indians, P Harikrishna, Vidit Santosh Gujrati and Aravindh Chithambaram were held to draws in the first game of the second round.
Harikrishna, who received a first-round bye, had to share the honours with Cuba’s Yasser Quesada Perez in a 32-move affair.
Chithambaram and Nodirbek Abdusattorov also drew their game.
In the women’s event, Padmini Rout and Sarasadat Khademalsharieh shared honours in the first game of the second round match, while D Harika scored a win over Medina Warda Aulia (Indonesia) in 48 moves.
India’s Bhakti Kulkarni and Natalija Pogonina were involved in a draw.
Top-seed and world champion Magnus Carlsen got his campaign off to a smooth start with a win with black against Sasa Martinovic.
The event was also rocked by a COVID-19 case when Indonesian GM Megaranto Susanto tested positive and was forced to forfeit the match to American ace Fabiano Caruana.
“The FIDE World Cup organizers confirm that one of the players has tested positive for Covid-19. The result of this test was known while he was playing his second-round game,” International Chess Federation wrote on its twitter handle.
“In line with the tournament’s public health and safety protocol, the player has been asked to immediately leave the playing area, and his game declared a loss. The player in question was wearing a face mask during the game, and he has been placed in quarantine.”
FIDE further said: “His opponent, who was also requested to leave the playing hall immediately, will now undergo additional medical screenings and will be tested again tomorrow as scheduled.”
Caruana hoped to continue his participation in the event after clearing the test.
“I hope Mr. Megaranto is feeling well – he seemed to be completely fine during the game, so the way the match ended was a very unpleasant shock. I’ll take a test tomorrow to determine if I was exposed to covid and hopefully I can continue the event after that,” he tweeted later.
GM Levon Aronian also forfeited the first game of the second round as the Armenian had some symptoms of fever earlier this week, FIDE said in a tweet.
“Even though Aronian feels well now, in order to not risk the safety of other players it has been decided that he will withdraw from the first game, and he will undergo additional health tests before deciding if he is fit to play in the second game,” FIDE said.
Matches in the FIDE World Cup are being played in the classical format.
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