Bobir Sattarov, an untitled 18-year-old aspirant from Uzbekistan, is clearly turning out to be the ‘surprise’ packet of Parvnath Grandmasters International chess tournament here.

With a modest rating of 2194, Sattarov is far from becoming an International Master. But in the past week, Sattarov’s playing strength has touched a rating of 2658 following his unbeaten run past six Grandmasters!

Following his phenomenal run, Sattarov only needs to make a move in the ninth round on Wednesday to gain a GM norm.

Sattarov started his campaign by holding Deep Sengupta (rated 2538), drew with John Paul Gomez (2541), beat Tornike Sanikidze (2541), proved equal to Merab Gagunashvili (2547) and defeated compatriot Marat Dzhumaev (2521).

On Tueday, it was the turn of another GM M. R. Lalith Babu (2579) to look worried against this low-rated player. Lalith battled for 89 moves, spread over four hours, for a draw that left him happy. “I was in trouble, at some point and therefore a draw is not a bad result. I am very surprised by the consistency with which he makes moves of such high quality.”

Given this ‘incredible’ performance of Sattabov, experts and analysts around the world are sure to take note of his games of the past week. His games are bound to come under strict scrutiny in the foreground of the increasing number of cases where players have been found to be using unethical ways to gain unfair advantage during games.

The draw on Lalith’s board meant overnight leader Abhijeet Gupta retained his overnight one-point lead, at seven points, since the first three boards produced deadlocks.

Abhijeet signed peace in just 24 moves against Ankit Rajpara on the top board after Ukrainians Eldar Gasanov and Valeriy Neverov enacted a 13-move farcical draw on the third board.

Russia’s Alexander Evodokimov and Filipino John Paul Gomez won their games to join the group that follows Abhijeet at six points.

The day also witnessed an unusual occurring. Top seeded Ukrainian Martyn Kravtsiv was docked a point for arriving 35 minutes late for his game against V. A. V. Rajesh. Kravtsiv, who apparently overslept, did not give any reason for his delayed arrival. As per the tournament rules, a walkover can be awarded if a player fails to report within the 30-minute ‘grace period’ from the scheduled start of the round.

The results (Indian unless stated):

Eighth round: Abhijeet Gupta (7) drew with Ankit Rajpara (6); Bobir Sattarov (Uzb, 6) drew M. R. Lalith Babu (6); Eldar Gasanov (Ukr, 6) drew with Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 6): Deep Sengupta (5) lost to Alexander Evodokimov (Rus, 6); Merab Gagunshvili (Geo, 5.5) drew with Deepan Chakkravarthy (5.5); M. Karthikeyan (5.5) drew with Vaibhav Suri (5.5); John Paul Gomez (Phi, 6) bt Swayams Mishra (5); Martyn Kravtsiv (Ukr, 4.5) lost to V. A. V. Rajesh (4.5); Levan Pantsulaia (Geo 5.5) bt K. Ratnakaran (4.5); Pavlo Vorontsov (Ukr, 5) drew with Oliver Barbosa (Phi, 5); Sameer Kathmale (5.5) bt M. R. Venkatesh (4.5); Marat Dzhumaev (Uzb, 5.5) bt P. Karthikeyan (4.5); Arun Prasad (5) drew with N. Vignesh (5); V. Saravanan (5.5) bt Sahaj Grover (4.5); R. R. Laxman (5.5) bt Sarninoz Kubonboeva (Uzb, 4.5); P. Shyamnikhil (5) drew with S. Nitin (5); Ivana Furtado (4.5) lost to N. Srinath (5.5); S. Kidambi (5) drew with N. Visakh (5).

Leading ninth-round pairings: Evdokimov-Abhijeet; Lalith-Gomez; Neverov-Sattarov; Rajpara-Gasanov;Laxman-Pantasulaia.

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