World blitz chess | Vaishali, Humpy brighten medal hopes

Arjun wins six games; Gukesh recovers from bad start

R. Vaishali and K. Humpy kept India’s medal hopes alive by holding the second and the third spots after nine rounds of the Women’s World blitz chess championship at Warsaw, Poland, on Wednesday. Riding a high of four-win streak after upstaging former World champion Mariya Muzychuk, sixth seed Valentina Gunina and scoring over the 2019 World junior girls champion Polina Shuvalova, 21st seed Vaishali (7.5 points) plays the surprise leader from Kazakhstan, Bibisara Assaubayeva (8).

Humpy, seeded three, will take on fifth seed and recently-crowned World rapid champion Alexandra Kosteniuk, having beaten her seventh seed Russian compatriot Aleksandra Goryachkina in the previous round. Seven rounds remain in the competition. Each player gets three minutes plus a two-second increment per move to finish the game.

In the open section, 10th seed Arjun Erigaisi comfortably proved equal to Magnus Carlsen in the 12th round to reach 8.5 points. Placed 12th, this highest-rated Indian in the fray at 2765 won six games. Levon Aronian, seeded 15, led with 10 points while favourite Carlsen was eighth with 8.5 points.

Among the Indians, 20th seed Nihal Sarin was struggling at 7.5 points for the 35th spot and needed to pick up steam in the remaining nine rounds.

D. Gukesh, with a starting rank of 119, shook off a disappointing start of two wins and five losses in the first seven rounds to score 4.5 points from the next five.

Indians’ standings:

Open (after 12 rounds): Arjun Erigaisi (8.5 points), Nihal Sarin, Vidit Gujrathi (7.5 each), P. Harikrishna (7), Harsha Bharathakoti, D. Gukesh, Abhimanyu Puranik (6.5 each), Raunak Sadhwani, Mitrabha Guha (6 each), S. L. Narayanan, Sankalp Gupta (5.5 each) and Aditya Mittal (3.5).

Women (after 9 rounds): R. Vaishali (7.5), K. Humpy (7), Vantika Agarwal (5) and Padmini Rout (4.5).

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