Two youngsters — Mumbai’s Prasanna Rao and local challenger Sahaj Grover — punched above their weights and came out feeling triumphant after the seventh round of the Gurgaon Grandmasters International Open chess tournament here on Sunday.
Prasanna floored second seed Oliver Barbosa in 78 moves after Grover drew from his defensive skills to hold top seeded Ukrainian Martyn Kravtsiv in the contest of leaders lasting 34 moves.
When the dust settled following some fierce battles, Prasanna, third seeded Russian Alexander Evdokimov and Georgia’s Tornike Sankidze joined Grover and Kravtsiv in the lead at six points. Three more rounds remain.
Prasanna’s endgame prowess involving a knight and pawns came to the fore against Barbosa.
The Indian claimed pawns on the 23rd and 36th moves to enhance his prospects.
A series of exchanges soon left the players a knight each and a few pawns.
For the last 29 moves, Prasanna gradually tightened the grip by converting his two-pawn advantage into a deserving victory and joined the leaders.
Evdokimov, playing black, flattened Srinath following a six-move combination in their miniature 26-move game.
In contrast, Sanikidze needed 53 moves to stop a fighting Sameer Kathmale in a rook-pawn ending.
The results (Indians unless stated):
Seventh round: Sahaj Grover (6) drew with Martyn Kravtsiv (Ukr, 6); Oliver Barbosa (Phi, 5.5) lost to Prasanna Rao (6); N. Srinath (5) lost to Alexander Evdokimov (Rus, 6).
Raset Ziatdinov (USA, 5.5) drew with John Paul Gomez (Phi, 5.5); Tornike Sanikidze (Geo, 6) bt Sameer Kathmale (5).
Swayams Mishra (5.5) drew with P. Karthikeyan (5.5); V. Karthik (5.5) drew with P. Shyamnikhil (5.5); Merab Gagunashvili (Geo, 5) drew with Akmal Faizulaev (Uzb, 5).
N. Visakh (5) drew with Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 5); Aniruddha Deshpande (5) drew with S. Arun Prasad (5).
Eldar Gasanov (Ukr, 5.5) bt Abhilash Reddy (4.5); Pradeep Kumar (4.5) lost to S. Kidambi (5.5); V. A. V. Rajesh (5) drew with Deepthamsh Reddy (5); Sarvinoz Kurbonboeva (Uzb, 5) drew with S. Satyapragyan (5).
M. Kunal (5.5) bt N. Niranjan (4.5); Vikramaditya Kulkarni (5.5) bt A. Abhishek (4.5); Chinmay Kulkarni (4.5) lost to B. S. Shivananda (5.5).