A fortuitous S. Kidambi punished Hannes Stefansson, an over-ambitious 10th seed, to join his colleague from Bharat Petroleum Parimarjan Negi and four others in the lead after an eventful eighth round of the Parsvnath International Open chess tournament here on Thursday.

Negi, seeded six, fought an equal battle with fifth-seeded Slovenian Luka Lenic in 38 moves from the white side of Ruy Lopez exchange variation. Ukraine's Mikhailo Oleksienko, the other overnight leader, also settled for a draw against Israel's Evgey Postny in 59 moves on the second board.

With the three overnight leaders involved in drawn encounters, three other players — Kidambi, top seed Alexander Areshchenko and fellow Ukrainian and third seed Yuriy Kuzubov — won their games to join the leaders' group at seven points. Areshchenko overpowered compatriot Yaroslav Zherebukh in an interesting battle in 45 moves after Kuzubov had shut out Armenian GM Levon Babujian in just 29 moves.

Kidambi needed some help from his opponent to prevail in a game that appeared to be heading for a draw. After the opening lines of semi-Slav defence, Kidambi and Stefansson fought on an even keel. On the 31st move, Kidambi offered a draw but the man from Iceland refused since the Indian faced a paucity of time.

Thereafter, Stefansson pressed hard to win on time and in the process, mishandled the position and handed the advantage to the Indian. Sensing the reversal of fortunes, Stefansson offered a draw that Kidambi turned down. Thereafter, Kidambi made the most of an advanced pawn to force the issue in 61 moves.

Abhijeet Gupta and Sahaj Grover made amends for the defeats in the previous rounds by expectedly scoring over fellow Indians.

The results (Indians unless stated): Eighth round: Parimarjan Negi (7) drew with Luca Lenic (Slo, 7); Evgeny Postny (Isr 6.5) drew with Mikhailo Oleksienko (Ukr, 7); Yaroslav Zherebukh (Ukr, 6) lost to Alexander Areshchenko (Ukr, 7); Ni Hua (Chn, 6.5) drew with Henrik Danielsen (Isl, 6.5); Levon Babujian (Arm 6) lost to Yuriy Kuzubov (Ukr, 7); Hannes Stefansson (Isl, 6) lost to S. Kidambi (7); Markus Ragger (Aut, 6) drew with Himanshu Sharma (6); Vaibhav Suri (6) drew with Konstantin Chernyshov (Rus, 6); Saptarshi Roy (5.5) lost to Abhijeet Gupta (6.5); P. Shyam Nikhil (6) drew with Martyn Kravtsiv (Ukr, 6); P.D.S. Girinath (5.5) lost to Alon Greenfeld (Isr, 6.5); Ziaur Rahman (Ban, 6) drew with Somak Palit (6); S. Arun Prasad (6) drew with K. Ratnakaran (6); R.R. Laxman (6.5) bt Zeng Chongsheng (Chn, 5.5); Arjun Tiwari (5.5) lost to Sahaj Grover (6.5); Vikramaditya Kamble (6.5) bt Avigdor Bykhovsky (Rus, 5); Marat Dzhumaev (Uzb, 6) bt J. Ramakrishna (5); Swapnil Dhopade (6) bt Shardul Gagare (5); R. Arun Karthik (6) bt G.A. Stany (5); M. Vinoth Kumar (5) lost to Yang Kaiqi (Chn, 6).

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