Abhijeet Gupta took another short draw to move within half a point of winning the Parsvnath Grandmasters International chess title here on Wednesday.

In the ninth and penultimate round, after Abhijeet signed peace with Russia’s Alexander Evdokimov in just 14 moves, the next four boards produced decisive verdicts to make things a bit uneasy for the leader.

Abhijeet, at 7.5 points, enjoys a half-point lead over Eldar Gasanov, Valeriy Neverov (both Ukraine) and John Paul Gomez (Philippines).

In the final round on Thursday, Abhijeet plays white against Gasanov and needs only a draw to regain the title.

After Abhijeet’s predictable short draw on the top board, two other leading Indians — M.R. Lalith Babu and Ankit Rajapara — ended up on the losing side.

Lalith turned down a draw-offer from Gomez, continued to search for victory but committed a blunder and resigned after 34 moves.

Rajpara capitulated in just 22 moves against Gasanov in a violent game.

Neverov ended Bobir Sattarov’s unbeaten run with a crushing victory in 42 moves. Despite the defeat, Sattarov made a Grandmaster norm.

The day also saw Arjun Tiwari, Padmini Rout along with brothers N. Visakh and N. Vignesh, make International Master norms.

Among the other Indians, Deepan Chakkravarthy worked out a nice victory over V. Saravanan in 49 moves after calling the shots for the better part of game, while N. Srinath was a worthy winner against the seasoned Uzbek GM Marat Dzhumaev in a bizarre game that lasted 32 moves

Deepan kept up the pressure by managing to advance a central pawn and a kingside pawn to leave the black king under serious threat.

After further simplification, and the exchange of rooks, Deepan clinched the issue with his queen controlling the strategic squares and clearing the way for the ‘queening’ of the kingside pawn.

In the Srinath-Dzhumaev game, the Uzbek clearly underestimated the position when giving away his pieces temporarily but, in the bargain, ended up a rook less. He eventually gave up when the loss of queen was inevitable.

The results (Indians unless stated):

Ninth round: Alexander Evdokimov (Rus, 6.5) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (7.5); M.R. Lalith Babu (6) lost to John Paul Gomez (Phi, 7); Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 7) bt Bobir Sattarov (Uzk, 6); Ankit Rajpara (6) lost to Eldar Gasanov (Ukr, 7).

R.R. Laxman (5.5) lost to Levan Pantsulaia (Geo, 6.5); Merab Gagunashvili (Geo, 6) drew with M. Karthikeyan (6); Vaibhav Suri (6) drew with V. A. V. Rajesh (6); N. Srinath (6.5) bt Marat Dzhumaev (Uzb, 5.5); Deepan Chakkravarthy (6.5) bt V. Saravanan (5.5); Tornike Sanikidze (Geo, 5.5) drew with Sameer Kathmale (6).

Oliver Barbosa (Phi, 5.5) drew with Raset Ziatdinov (USA, 5.5); Himanshu Sharma (5) lost to Deep Sengupta (6); S. Nitin (5.5) drew with Arun Prasad (5.5); N. Vignesh (5) lost to Saptarshi Roy (6); Swayams Mishra (5) lost to N. Visakh (6); Padmini Rout (6) bt P. Shyamnikhil (5); B. T. Murali Krishnan (5.5) drew with S. Kidambi (5.5); Ulugbek Tillyaev (Uzb, 5.5) drew with Palvo Vorontsov (Ukr, 5.5).

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