Constant start for Sankalp in his first tournament in Italy

NAGPUR: Sankalp Gupta He won a victory, had a Grandmaster with a higher rating and went down fighting the defending champion on the opening day of his first international rating Chess Tournament in Italy on Friday.

Participating in the Elite group of the fourth edition of International Vergani Cup Chess tournament at Montebelluna, Italy, Vidarbha's third International Master (IM) has been given a starting rank of 19 and Sankalp is holding the fort at joint fourth position after three rounds.

The 17-year-old began his campaign with an easy victory over the International Master of Indian Women (WIM) Priyanka Nutakki while defending with his black pieces.

In the second round, Sankalp used his opening advantage with the white pieces to force the ninth seeded IM Barseghyan Harutyun of France to play a draw in a complicated game played on the seventh board.

It was a complicated game that took a long time. In the end, my position was worse and offered a draw. Since he only had three seconds left on the clock, my offer was accepted and I was happy with the draw. Sankalp said in his second draw.

However, in the third round, Sankalp suffered his first loss when he went down to first place and 2617 Elo GM Ter-Sahakyan Samvel of Armenia in an interesting game of 36 moves.

With its black pieces, the 2400 Elo Sankalp opted for the Caro-Kann defense in the opening movement of King Pawn played by his experienced GM, who in the previous edition won the same tournament.

After amending his pieces in movement 11, Sankalp chose a first security approach and launched an attack with his Queen Pawn in movement 14. Samvel, however, overtook his bishop and on move 19 and gave his first threat to Sankalp In two movements, the IM of the city became a pawn down.

After Sankalp put his tower into play on move 24 trying a double attack involving his Knight, the Aremian GM withdrew his bishop.

In movement 34, Samvel again threw his bishop in play from a different angle, Sankalp lost his knight to become a piece and resigned in the next two movements.

Bringing my bishop to the front was not a good plan and then I moved two of my pawns in the hope that the central expansion left some gaps in my defense. During the game he looked attractive but left me vulnerable to his bishops when the position was open, Sankalp told TOI after suffering his first defeat in the match.

In the fourth round, Sankalp will seek to win a point when he faces the lower-ranking Indian teacher Aarav Dengla on board 14.

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