Grandmaster S. Arun Prasad crashed through the defenses of Yuri Solodovnichenko of Ukraine to emerge as joint leader on 6.5 points after the end of the 8th and penultimate round of Grand Europe Golden Sands chess tournament here.

Prasad shares the lead with Vladimir Georgiev of Macedonia, Zybnyk Hracek of Czech Republic and Nils Grandelius of Sweden. The four leaders are followed by a pack of 15 players having six points apiece including Indian Grandmasters Abhijeet Gupta, M.R. Venkatesh, Deep Sengupta, Vidit Gujrathi, International Master Ashwin Jayaram and Indian women champion Mary Ann Gomes.

Abhijeet Gupta had little problems in beating Sahaj Grover who erred early in the Grunfeld defense and had no answers as he got his pieces rolling against the black king.

The game was over in a mere 24 moves when Grover blundered in an already difficult position and landed in to a position that was beyond repair.

Vidit Gujrathi played out his third draw on the trot splitting the point with Vladislav Nevednichy of Romania while Ashwin Jayaram scored a thumping victory against Dmitry Svetushkin of Moldova.

Klaus Friedrichs of Germany proved no match for Venkatesh and Mary Ann Gomes continued with her devastating form to crush higher ranked and former Russian women champion Natalija Pogonina.

On what turned out to be an excellent day for Prasad, the English opening gave him a decent advantage as white and Solodovnichenko suffered once white got a bind on the king side.

Arun Prasad continued the attack bringing his queen near the black king and the Ukrainian was forced to part with a piece to avert the immediate danger. He scored in the endgame making no mistakes with his extra material.

Ashwin Jayaram also scored a fluent victory against Svetushkin. The Indian opted for the fianchetto variation in the Semi Slav defense and pushed Svetushkin on the queen side.

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