Young Grandmaster Vaibhav Suri joined Magesh Chandran Panchanathan in lead on five points after the end of the sixth round of Parsvnath International Chess Festival now underway here at Ludlow Castle Sports Complex.
At the top of the tables, Magesh Chandran Panchanathan survived a real scare before he could salvage a draw against Commonwealth champion M R Lalith Babu while Suri had it easy against International Master Anup Deshmukh to match overnight leader Chandran on points.
On what turned out to be a tough day for him, top seeded Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta suffered a major reversal going down to veteran Grandmaster Niaz Murshed of Bangladesh. It was an excellent position for fancied Gupta in the opening but Murshed kept himself in the hunt and eventually turned the tables with some fighting chess.
With Suri and Chandran in front, as many as nine players are in close pursuit on 4.5 points apiece. They are Aleksej Aleksandrov of Belarus, Lu Shanglei of China, Czebe Attila of Hungary, Dzhumaev Marat of Uzbekistan, Murshed and Indians, Lalith Babu, Ankit Rajpara, Swapnil Dhopade and Murali Karthikeyan.
A pack of 11 players including former national champion B Adhiban is in the hunt too on four points apiece and the battle for the top is only going to get interesting as the event progresses further.
Amongst the Indian youngsters Murali Karthikeyan kept himself in contention for a norm after defeating Wang Yunguo of China. After six rounds, the 13-year old has a staggering performance rating of 2610 points. If the trend continues, the under-12 world champion of 2011 is on course for a Grandmaster norm here.
The ‘C’ category of the first Indian chess festival got underway here on a chilly but not-so-cold Wednesday morning. The temperatures moved towards normalcy which was a big respite for the players.
In all 555 players are taking part in the category ‘C’ event which is reserved for players below 1900 ELO rating. The festival has catered to 890 players in all including all categories.