Delhi International Open: Lalith moves to second spot

After leader Ivan Popov (7.5 points) and fellow Russian Boris Grachev, the top seed, drew on expected lines, Lalith emerged with a 42-move victory. Lalith, seeded 10 and the strongest Indian in the field, now shares the second spot with Ukraine’s Yuri Solodvnichenko and Hungary’s Attila Czebe at 6.5 points.

M. R. Lalith Babu has 6.5 points in the ongoing Delhi International Open.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Grandmaster M. R. Lalith Babu joined the race for an honourable finish in the Delhi Open International Grandmasters chess tournament with a timely victory over an upbeat Sayantan Das in the eighth round here on Thursday.

After leader Ivan Popov (7.5 points) and fellow Russian Boris Grachev, the top seed, drew on expected lines, Lalith emerged with a 42-move victory. Lalith, seeded 10 and the strongest Indian in the field, now shares the second spot with Ukraine’s Yuri Solodvnichenko and Hungary’s Attila Czebe at 6.5 points.

With two rounds to go, even two draws should be enough for Popov to claim the title owing to his superior tie-break score.

From an Indian perspective, Lalith’s victory assumed significance. Following a slow start, the former runner-up is back on the track. After being tested in Kings Indian Defence by Sayantan, Lalith gained a pawn easily and enlarged the advantage. Troubled by paucity of time, Sayatan eventually gave up when faced with the prospect of a one-move checkmate or loss of queen for a rook.

Earlier, Solodovnichenko and Czebe stopped young Indian International Masters N. R. Vignesh and Ravi Teja to move to the second spot.

Meanwhile, Pradeep Kumar, looking to add an International Master norm, inched closer to his goal by holding Vietnamese GM Ngyuen Duc Hoa.

The results (Indians unless stated):

Eighth round: Boris Grachev (Rus, 6) drew with Ivan Popov (Rus, 7.5); Yuri Solodovnichenko (Ukr, 6.5) bt N. R. Vignesh (5.5); Vitaly Sivuk (Ukr, 6) drew with Sriram Jha (6); M. R. Lalith Babu (6.5) bt Sayantan Das (5.5); Pradeep Kumar (6) drew with Nguyen Duc Hoa (Vie, 6); Attila Czebe (Hun, 6.5) bt Ravi Teja (5.5); Anton Demchenko (Rus, 5.5) drew with K. Ratnakaran (5.5); G. Akash (5.5) drew with Vladimir Belous (Rus, 5.5); Vaibhav Suri (6) bt Himanshu Sharma (5); N. R. Visakh (5) lost to Vitaliy Bernadskiy (Ukr, 6); Harsha Bharathakoti (5) lost to Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 6); Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy (Vie, 6) bt Sammad Shete (5); B. T. Murali Krishnan (5) lost to N. Srinath (6).