Four-man race for title

Rakesh Rao

GURGAON: Grandmasters Neelotpal Das and second seed Yuriy Kuzubov posted impressive victories to join top seed Alexander Areshchenko and R.R. Laxman in the lead as the Gurgaon International Open chess tournament headed for a thrilling climax at the Suncity World School here.

In the ninth and penultimate round on Wednesday, overnight leaders Laxman and Areshchenko drew in just 21 moves before Neelotpal and Kuzubov matched their tally of 7.5 points with resounding wins.

Neelotpal, seeded 12, overpowered seventh-seeded Uzbek GM Saidali Iuldachev in 38 moves. Kuzubov ended Deep Sengupta’s resistance in 54 moves to be part of the leaders’ group.

On Thursday, Neelotpal plays black against Kuzubov and Areshchenko faces Laxman, who needs a draw to collect his second GM norm.

Girinath gets GM norm

P.D.S. Girinath made his first GM norm by beating fifth seed Abhijit Kunte, the highest-rated Indian in the fray. The 30-year-old Southern Railwayman from Hyderabad needed 125 moves spread over five hours to achieve the feat.

It was a good day for youngsters. If Anwesh Upadhayay and N. Srinath drew with GMs Mikhail Ulibin and Niaz Murshed, Mehar Chinna Reddy stunned eighth-seeded Uzbek Shukhrat Safin.

Naveen stuns Shyam

T.U. Naveen Kanna surprised Shyam Sundar while T. Purushothaman added to the woes of National runner-up Akshayraj Kore.

P. Saravana Krishna, a student of Chennai’s St. Joseph’s College of Engineering, reinforced his International Master norm by scoring over C. Praveen Kumar. Similarly, B.S. Shivananda celebrated his maiden IM norm by beating an out of form GM P. Magesh Chandran.

The results (Indians unless stated): Ninth round: R.R. Laxman (7.5) drew with Alexander Areshchenko (Ukr, 7.5); Yuriy Kuzubov (Ukr, 7.5) bt Deep Sengupta (6.5); Neelotpal Das (7.5) bt Saidali Iuldachev (Uzb, 6.5); Mikhail Ulibin (Rus, 7) drew with Anwesh Upadhyaya (7); Nurlan Ibrayev (Kaz, 6.5) drew with Yuri Solodovnichenko (Ukr, 6.5); P.D.S. Girinath (7) bt Abhijit Kunte (6).

Anuar Ismagambetov (Kaz, 7) bt Sokhib Djuraev (Tjk, 6); Himanshu Sharma (6.5) drew with B.T. Murali Krishnan (6.5); Niaz Murshed (Ban, 6.5) drew with N. Srinath (6.5); T.U. Naveen Kanna (7) bt Shyam Sundar (6); Shashikant Kutwal (6.5) drew with S.P. Sethuraman (6.5).

Mehar Chinna Reddy (7) bt Shukhrat Safin (Uzb, 5.5); B.S. Shivananda (6.5) bt P. Magesh Chandran (5.5); M.R. Lalith Babu (6.5) bt Annaberdi Esenov (Tkm, 5.5); Rahul Sangma (6) drew with P. Konguvel (6); Soumya Swaminathan (5.5) lost to Pravin Thipsay (6.5); K. Ratnakaran (6.5) bt Boris Arkhangelsky (Rus, 5.5); M.S. Thejkumar (6) drew with P. Maheswaran (6); Saptarshi Roy (6) drew with Sagar Shah (6).

Akshayraj Kore (5.5) lost to T. Purushothaman (6.5); R. Premnath (5.5) lost to Somak Palit (6.5); Akash Thakur (6.5) bt Prathamesh Mokal (5.5); Farhan Mohannad (Jor, 6) drew with Suvrajit Saha (6); Vikramjit Singh (6) drew with Kruttika Nadig (6); Vaibhav Suri (5.5) lost to S. Nitin (6.5); P. Saravana Krishnan (6.5) bt C. Praveen Kumar (5.5).

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