GM Parimarjan Negi was presented a Christmas gift when he suddenly found his winning touch coming back as he won two of the three rapid games played in the Amity Grandmasters Challenge at the Russian Centre on Sunday.
This is the first win for Parimarjan since the tournament started and earned him two points. But Ukraine's Kateryna Lahno is still leading 7.5-4.5 and needs just 2 points in the final six blitz games.
Parimarjan decided to play a risky game unlike his cautious approach during the past matches. He tried a new opening — the Scotch — in the first game.
Parimarjan also tried to match Kateryna in speed, rattling out the moves without hesitation. However, the Ukrainian maintained a balanced position and a draw was evident. But Kateryna won a pawn in the endgame won the game.
In the second game, Kateryna missed a winning combination and was confused by fine tactical tricks from her opponent. Playing with black, Parimarjan opened with a Sicilian Nazdorf that gave Kateryna an advantage after a wrong exchange sacrifice in the middle game.
Kateryna soon came under pressure created by Parimarjan's queen and knight. Bailing herself out by giving back the rook for knight, Kateryna went on to lose as Parimarjan promoted his rook pawn for a second queen.
A confident Parimarjan was now ready for the third game. While it was expected to be tough, he won it easily. Kateryna played a spanish opening but was soon in trouble as she made her her first blunder. She conceded a bishop without any compensation on the 17th move. Shocked by the mistake, Kateryna played a few more mechanical moves and gave away the match.
“I can't believe I made that blunder,” Kateryna said. “It's a confidence-booster for tomorrow's final blitz games," said an ecstatic Parimarjan.