D. Gukesh inched closer to completing a hat-trick of titles after beating Julien Song (France) in the eighth round of the Chessables Sunway International chess tournament in Punta Prima, Spain, on Friday.

This 68-move victory with white pieces gave Gukesh (6.5 points) a half-point lead over three nearest rivals. The 15-year-old plays his senior compatriot K Sasikiran (5.5) in the ninth and penultimate round.

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Fourth seed Gukesh, winner of the La Roda tournament and the Menorca Open last month, started the day in joint lead with Spaniards Latasa Jaime Santos and Jimenez Jose Fernando Cuenca. After Santos and Cuenca drew their games, Gukesh went on to convert his advantage into a much-needed victory. Currently, Santos, Cuenca and Armenia’s Shant Sargsyan share the second spot at 6 points.

Second seed Sasikiran drew with fifth seeded Armenian Haik Martirosyan and Soham Das (5) fought back to hold Georgian Nino Batsiashvili.

Arjun slips to second spot

Meanwhile in Malmo, Sweden, Arjun Erigaisi (2.5 points) slipped to the second spot following a 39-move draw with local hope Nils Grandelius after four rounds of the Tepe Sigeman round-robin chess tournament on Friday.

For the third day in succession, there was only one decisive game, where USA’s Hans Moke Niemann (3 points) defeated UAE's Saleh Salem in 43 moves to become the leader.