Former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta held top seed Grandmaster Radoslav Wojtaszek of Poland to an easy draw in the eighth round of AICF-AAI Cup in New Delhi on Friday.
The day did not produce any decisive game like the first round and the lead positions remained unchanged.
Anton Korobov survived some anxious moments before signing peace with Krishnan Sasikiran while Parimarjan Negi pressed for sometime before splitting the point with Evgeny Alekseev of Russia at the AAI institute.
With just two rounds to go in the category-18 double round-robin tournament between six players, Korobov and Alekseev stay ahead of the field with 4.5 points each. They are trailed by Wojtaszek and Sasikiran on four points apiece.
Negi and Gupta share the fifth spot another half point adrift.
Grandmaster Gupta came up with a strong opening Novelty on his 11th turn that put Wojtaszek in a long thought out of a Grunfeld defence.
Playing white, the Polish Grandmaster went for the most principled continuation that netted him two pawns temporarily but Gupta had prepared it much deeper.
Recovering one pawn Gupta went to a pawn-less endgame where the activity of his pieces ensured sufficient play and Wojtaszek felt the heat when he fell slightly worse in the endgame.
However, the game was never quite out of the boundary of a draw and the peace was signed in the ensuing rook and pawns endgame. The game was drawn in 56 moves.
Sasikiran was in his elements and pressed right after the opening. From the black side of a Nimzo Indian, the Indian went for a King side attack and fell just a little short in the middle game as Korobov found a precise defence.
Sasikiran thought he missed out on his chances in the middle game when he allowed a favourable liquidation and thereafter Korobov had an easy defence to do.
Negi faced the topical Berlin defence by Alekseev who played black. The Indian star chose to play a symmetrical middle game with lots of pieces on board instead of trying out long drawn endgames typical of the opening.
The result was a pleasant position for Negi but Alekseev kept himself in the hunt with some timely exchanges that maintained the balance. Negi drew vide repetition of moves.
Results after round 8: Parimarjan Negi (IND, 3.5) drew with Evgeny Alekseev (RUS, 4.5); Anton Korobov (UKR, 4.5) drew with Krishnan Sasikiran (IND, 4); Radoslav Wojtaszek (POL, 4) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (IND, 3.5).
Pairings round 9: Korobov vs Negi; Sasikiran vs Wojtaszek; Gupta vs Alekseev.