Biel (Switzerland), July 24 (IANS) Indian Grand Master Pentala Harikrishna got off to a flying start in the Biel International Chess Festival campaign after finishing runner-up in the Rapid Chess Championship here.
The eight-player closed-tournament saw the likes of former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, women’s World Champion Hou Yifan, David Navara (top seed), Alexander Morozevich, Yannick Pelletier, Rafael Vaganian and Vlastimil Hort feature alongside Harikrishna, who is the sole Indian representative in this prestigious event.
The second seeded Indian got the better of Vlastimil with ease in the opening round to breeze into the semi-finals. The 31-year-old from Guntur was up against local lad Pelletier in the semi-finals.
The Indian comfortably defeated the Swiss in both the games to set the summit clash with top seeded Czech Grand Master Navara.
In the final, on Sunday, Harikrishna had a great chance to go the distance, but could not sustain the momentum with Navara clinching the opener in 37 moves.
Harikrishna was looking for redemption in the second encounter to take the tie to the third and final Armageddon game. But the Czech Grandmaster did well to hold on to his fort to gradually lead the game towards neutral territory after 46 moves to take the crown.
The World No.20 Indian will now start his campaign in the Grand Master Tournament which will be played at Classic time control and will have a playing field of 10 very competitive Grand Masters.
He will take on Rafael Vaganian from Armenia later on Monday for his first-round encounter in the single round-robin tournament.