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Exciting finish on the cards

KOCHI, NOV. 29. As he came out of the crowded playing hall, the burly Grandmaster broke into a smile.

"It's going to be an interesting day tomorrow," said Tigran Petrosian. "It's going to be hot on all the top three boards," predicted the second-seeded Armenian after the penultimate day of the chess Junior Worlds at the Casino Hotel here on Monday.

With the overnight leader P. Harikrishna surprisingly being forced to a six-move draw, China's Zhao Jun joined the Indian on the homestretch in the race for the gold. Petrosian is just half point behind the two leaders and also with a chance of picking a medal.

While second-seeded Harikrishna will face top-seeded Ferenc Berkes for Tuesday's final round, No.12 Zhao Jun was pitted against under-18 World champion Radoslaw Wojtaszek, the fifth seed here.

The fourth seed Petrosian was the luckiest of the three as he will meet 18th seed Elshan Moradiabadi of Iran. No wonder, the Armenian was all smiles this evening. "Berkes is back in form, he won the last three rounds," he said.

Flabbergasted

Despite playing with white, Ukrainian Grandmaster Yuri Drozdovsky stunned everyone by offering a draw on the sixth move against Harikrishna. He had chosen to play the exchange variation against the Slav Defence of the Indian. Harikrishna was surprised but a few seconds later, he extended his hand to sign the peace treaty. With 9.5 points from 12 rounds, Harikrishna is now assured of a medal but he has to win tomorrow's final round to get the gold.

A little later, Pune's Eesha Karavade brightened up the scene and her chances of winning a medal, by downing Poland's Joanna Majdan, the world under-14 silver medallist. Karavade is just a point behind the girls' leaders, Ekaterina Korbut and Paehtz Elisabeth, the top two seeds who will be fighting for the gold and silver.

Kruttika Nadig was another Indian girl who tasted success. The Pune-born, Bangalore student won her second International Woman Master norm after shocking fourth-seeded Ukrainian Anna Ushenina. It was her first victory over a Woman Grandmaster.

Important results (12th round, Indians unless stated):

Boys: Yuri Drozdovsky (Ukr, 8) drew with P. Harikrishna (9.5), Yunieski Quezada Perez (Cub, 7.5) lost to Zhao Jun (Chn, 9.5), Tigran L. Petrosian (Arm, 9) bt Zhe Quan (Can, 7), Erwin l'Ami (Ned, 7.5) drew with Evgeny Alekseev (Rus, 8), Elshan Moradiabadi (Ira, 8) bt Deep Sengupta (7.5), Jan Smeets (Ned, 7) lost to Ferenc Berkes (Hun, 8), Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Pol, 8) bt Mark Paragua (Phi, 7), Artem Iljin (Rus, 7.5) drew with Vlad-Cristian Jianu (Rom, 7.5), Mateusz Bartel (Pol, 7.5) bt Timur Gareyev (Uzb, 6.5), Pablo Lafuente (Arg, 7.5) bt Koneru Humpy (6.5).

Girls: Ekaterina Korbut (Rus, 9.5) bt Zhang Jilin (Chn, 7.5), Saheli Nath (6.5) lost to Elisabeth Paehtz (Ger, 9.5), Eesha Karavade (8.5) bt Joanna Majdan (Pol, 7), Anna Ushenina (Ukr, 7.5) lost to Krutikka Nadig (Ind, 7.5), Marlies Bensdorp (Ned, 7) drew with Tania Sachdev (7), N. Vinuthna (7) drew with Jennifer Perez (Cub, 7), P. Sivasankari (7) bt Siti Zulaikha (Mas, 6.5), C. Delphin (6) lost to Alina Motoc (Rom, 7).

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