The only thing defending champion and top seed Grand Master (GM) Nigel Short can’t afford to do on Wednesday is lose to GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly in the final round of the Commonwealth Chess Championship in Mumbai.
Any other result will be enough for him to retain the title. On Tuesday, the former World No 2 overcame a fighting IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman in the ninth and penultimate round.
The result with white pieces meant Short moved to eight points out of a possible 9 with GM Sandipan Chanda, who beat Sundararajan Kidambi, and MR Venkatesh, who overcame Sriram Jha from an inferior position, close on his heels with 7.5 points.
However, things are in favour of Short in Buchholz Cut tiebreak. “A draw would be enough for Nigel Short to win the title as he is better in tiebreak. He can't afford to lose the game,” said chief arbiter MD Bhagwat. Ganguly, Abhijit Kunte and Deepan Chakravarthy are on seven points.
The women’s title is still on the line as both Vijayalakshmi and WGM Eesha Karavade are tied on 6.5 points going into the final round. But Viji is way ahead on tiebreak and would benefit in case both games end in draw.
Neither player can afford to lose the game as it would mean a cut in the prize money. On the top board, Short capitalised on some mistakes by Vijayalakshmi in a tactical skirmish arising out of Ruy Lopez opening. However, the five-time Indian national women's champion made a dubious move and allowed an inferior exchange in which Short claimed her queen for a rook and a minor piece.
Though she got enough compensation for the queen, it also gave Short opportunities to attack the rival king.