Grandmaster P. Iniyan kept his tryst with destiny and sealed the lone qualifying berth available by winning the penultimate round of the AICF World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Seeded seven, Iniyan won the first two rounds on Sunday to reach an unsurpassable tally of 12.5 points from 16 rounds. In the final round, he could not focus enough and lost to Deep Sengupta. But the result did not harm Iniyan even after D. Gukesh won his final round to match the winning tally.
Since Iniyan had scored over Gukesh in their 14th round encounter on Saturday, he was awarded the title, worth a spot in the World Cup beginning in Sochi Russia on July 10.
It was important for Iniyan to win against overnight third-placed Raja Rithvik in the day’s first round. S.L. Narayanan did Iniyan a favour by holding Gukesh to a draw.
Leading by a point with two rounds remaining, Iniyan defeated Saravana Krishna to ensure that he could not be overtaken by Gukesh who stayed close by beating Soumya Swaminathan.
“I didn’t expect to win the title. I came here well prepared and the idea was not to lose games,” said Iniyan who won 12 games, most by any player.
Final standings: 1-2. P. Iniyan, D. Gukesh (12.5 points); 3. S.P. Sethuraman (10.5); 4-7. Surya Shekhar Ganguly. S.L. Narayanan, S. Nitin, Raja Rithvik (10 each); 8. Rahul Srivatshav (9); 9. B. Adhiban (8.5); 10. Deep Sengupta (8); 11. Aditya Mittal (7.5); 12. Vishnu Prasanna (6.5); 13. C.R.G. Krishna (6), 14. Soumya Swaminathan (5); 15-16. M. Vinay Kumar, Krishnan Saravana (4 each); 17. Vatsal Singhania (2).