Abhijeet Gupta kept alive hopes of regaining the Parvsnath Grandmasters International chess title when he stayed ahead of the other title-aspirant after another energy-draining double-round day here on Sunday.

After stopping fellow-overnight leader M.R. Lalith Babu in the fifth round to enjoy a point’s lead, Abhijeet chose to take a 34-move draw with Valeriy Neverov and lead the field.

Lalith sliced Abhijeet’s lead to half-a-point by beating USA’s GM Raset Ziatdinov in 40 moves.

A series of draws, again owing to the format that allows double rounds on two alternate days early in the competition, also helped Abhijeet and Lalith to occupy the top two places.

Lalith, holding a slight edge after Abhijeet chose to trade his queen for three minor pieces, got too ambitious. Abhijeet then sacrificed a rook for a minor piece and proposed a draw, an offer that Lalith ignored.

Thereafter, Lalith pressed hard for victory in a fairly balanced position and lost.

While a spate of draws dominated the proceedings on the leading boards, there was a winner in the ‘B’ category of the competition. Vijay Kumar of Bihar topped a five-way tie at 8.5 points to win the title. Incredibly, R. Praggananandhaa, who recently won the World under-8 title, was part of the tie for the top spot.

The results (Indians unless stated):

Sixth round: Abhijeet Gupta (5.5) drew with Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 4.5); Levan Pantasulaia (Geo, 4.5) drew with Deepan Chakkravarthy (4.5); Raset Ziatdinov (USA, 4) lost to Lalith Babu (5); Merab Gagunashvili (Geo, 4.5) drew with Bobir Sattarov (Uzb, 4); Deep Sengupta (4.5) drew with Ankit Rajpara (4.5); N. Vignesh (4.5) drew with M.R. Venkatesh (4.5); S. Kidambi (3.5) lost to Martyn Kravtsiv (Ukr, 4.5); Akshat Khamparia (4) drew with Alexander Evdokimov (Rus, 4); G.A. Stany (4) drew with Vaibhav Suri (4); Marat Dzhumaev (4.5) bt Pavlo Vorontsov (Ukr, 3.5).

Fifth round: Lalith Babu lost to Abhijeet, Rajpara drew with Gagunashvili, Vignesh drew with Deep; Deepan drew with Ziatdinov; Pantsulaia bt Khamparia; Martyn Kravtsiv drew with R. R. Laxman (3.5), Evdokimov drew with Stany, Venkatesh bt P. Shyamnikhil (3); K. Ratnakaran (3.5) drew with Dzhumaev , Neverov bt Padmini Rout (3).

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