Anton Korobov of Ukraine beat Asian champion Parimarjan Negi to emerge the sole leader with 5.5 points after the ninth round of the AICF-AAI Cup Category-18 chess tournament at the AAI Officers Institute here on Saturday.

Negi had one of his forgettable games, as he blundered a knight in the middle game and teased his luck by exchanging his two rooks for the queen. Korobov moved his king to safety and handled black’s spirited attack competently to cruise to victory in 42 moves.

The loss put Negi at the bottom of the table, with 3.5 points, in the six player league played on a double round-robin format.

Former World junior champion Abhijeet Gupta looked headed for victory, but was unable to capitalise on the advantage in the end game. His match against Evgeny Alekseev of Russia ended in a draw after 75 moves with the black knight forking the last two pawns on the board.

Alekseev reached the second position with five points before the last round, and will play K. Sasikiran. Negi will meet Gupta, and Korobov will need a draw against top seed Radoslav Wojtaszek of Poland to take the winner’s prize of four lakh rupees.

The results (ninth round): Anton Korobov (Ukr) 5.5 bt Parimarjan Negi 3.5; K. Sasikiran 4.5 drew with Radoslav Wojtaszek (Pol) 4.5; Abhijeet Gupta 4 drew with Evgeny Alekseev (Rus) 5.

Keywords: ChessAICF-AAI Cup

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