Five Grandmasters share lead; Swati, Bhakti among those in second spot

Swati Ghate proved stronger to International Master Rishi Sardana and joined those within half-a-point of the leaders.

Woman International Master Swati Ghate (left) surprised International Master Rishi Sardana, representing Australia, in the fifth round of the Commonwealth Chess championship in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  Rakesh Rao

After four rounds of Commonwealth Chess championship witnessed a spate of upsets, the heavyweights finally asserted themselves in the fifth, with five Grandmasters forming the leader’s group here.

On a day when two rounds were scheduled, fourth-round leaders Swapnil Dhopade and Vaibhav Suri drew in just 20 moves on the top board before defending champion Abhijeet Gupta, Aravindh Chithambaram and Tejas Bakre scored fluent victories to make it a five-way lead at 4.5 points.

Unlike Wednesday, the ladies could not make an impact. The only exception was Swati Ghate who proved stronger to International Master Rishi Sardana and joined those within half-a-point of the leaders. Similarly, Bhakti Kulkarni kept pace with Swati by surprising Arjun Erigaisi.

Top seed Abhijeet won both rounds to stay in the hunt for a hat-trick of titles. He defeated two fellow GMs – Niaz Murshed of Bangladesh and Ankit Rajpara.

Second seed Aravindh had it easy against Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh before snapping the dream-sequence of K. Priyanka. Tejas proved stronger against the five-time National champion Bhagyashree Thipsay and then overpowered Sahaj Grover to be among the leaders.

Important results (Indian unless stated):

Fifth round: Swapnil Dhopade (4.5) drew with Vaibhav Suri (4.5); Ankit Rajpara (3.5) lost to Abhijeet Gupta (4.5); K. Priyanka (3.5) lost to Aravindh Chithambaram (4.5); Sahaj Grover (3.5) lost to Tejas Bakre (4.5); Ziaur Rahman (Ban, 3.5) drew with Chakravarthi Reddy (3.5); Abhijit Kunte (4) bt Indrajeet Mahindrakar (3); Aradhya Garg (3.5) drew with Deepan Chakravarthy (3.5); Abdullah Al Rakib (Ban, 3.5) drew with V. Pranavananda (3.5); Swati Ghate (4) bt Rishi Sardana (Aus, 3); Parnali Dharia (3) drew with Tania Sachdev (3).

Fourth round: Vaibhav Suri bt Swati Ghate; Swapnil Dhopade bt Bhakti Kulkarni; Ankit Rajpara drew with K. Priyanka; Abhijieet Gupta bt Niaz Murshed (Ban); Mary Ann Gomes (2.5) lost to Sahaj Grover; Tejas Bakre bt Bhagyashree Thipsay; Enamul Hossain (Ban) lost to Mrudul Dehankar; Mahindrakar Indrajeet bt Padmini Rout.

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