Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: Grandmaster Tigran Petrosian of Armenia opened up the race for the title with a fine win over International Master Diwakar Prasad Singh to be the sole leader with 7.5 points at the end of the ninth round of the second Kolkata Open international chess tournament at the Gorky Sadan here on Monday.

Overnight leader GM Darmen Sadvakasov of Kazakhstan, on 7 points, stumbled and lost to GM Dimitri Komarov of Ukraine in the top board action. Top seed Sergei Tiviakov of The Netherlands also bounced back with a good win over GM R.B. Ramesh to be on 6.5 along with Komarov.

Eight Indians achieved norms at the end of the penultimate round. Topping the list were IM Sriram Jha (2419) and G.N. Gopal (2423). Both earned their maiden nine-round GM norms. Six others, Aditya Udeshi (2213), M.R. Lalith Babu (2284), K. Rathnakaran (2395), S.P. Sethuraman (2363), Vikramaditya Kamble (2326) and Arghyadip Das (2379), confirmed their nine-round IM norms, according to chief arbiter R.C. Chatterjee.

D.P. Singh, having blundered by offering a draw to Jha in the eighth round on Sunday, had no other option but to win the next two rounds to confirm his maiden GM norm. In the process, the Jamshedpur-based 30-year-old declined Petrosian's draw offer on the 23rd move and continued the game arising from the exchange variation of Ruy Lopez. Though Singh held equality for the major part of the game, he slipped in the end game and lost on the 40th move.

Important results (Indians, unless mentioned): Darmen Sadvakasov (Kaz) (7) lost to Dimitri Komarov (Ukr) (6.5); Tigran Petrosian (Arm) (7.5) bt D.P. Singh (5.5); R.B. Ramesh (5.5) lost to Sergei Tiviakov (Ned) (6.5); Alon Greenfeld (Isr) (6) drew with Saidali Iuldachev (Uzb) (6); Safin Shukhrat (Uzb) (6) drew with GM Mikhail Kekelidze (Geo) (6); Sriram Jha (6) drew with G.N. Gopal (6); Aditya Udeshi (5) lost to S.S. Ganguly (6); P.D.S. Girinath (5.5) drew with Ziaur Rahman (Ban) (5.5); Abhijit Kunte (6) bt M.R. Lalith Babu (5); J. Deepan Chakkravarthy (5.5) drew with Arun Prasad (5.5).

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