Naiditsch moves closer to Delhi International Open chess title

GM norms for Iyer, Nubairshah; IM norm for Shete. Lalit, Abhijeet lose.

Akash Iyer, who made his maiden Grandmaster-norm in the Delhi International Open chess tournament, in New Delhi on Monday.   -  Special Arrangement

A short draw led to a win-win situation for Arkadij Naiditsch and Akash Iyer. It marked the completion of his maiden Grandmaster norm for the student from Chennai. For the Azerbaijani top seed, the 13-move draw brought him within half a point of winning the Delhi International Open chess title here.

As things stand after the ninth and penultimate round, Naiditsch leads with eight points. Bangladesh’s Ziaur Rahman is second at 7.5. Akash, M. Karthikeyan, N. R. Vignesh, Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh, Italy’s David Alberto, Russia’s Andrei Deviatkin Tajikistan’s Mohammad Khusenkhojaev and Hungary’s Adam Horvath share the third spot at seven points.

In Tuesday’s final round, Naiditsch plays white against Alberto. Another short draw cannot be ruled out since that’ll rightfully seal the title for the top seed.

For the Indians, the heartening news was the completion of GM norms for Akash and Nubairshah, along with the International Master norm for Sammed Shete.

Akash, who fulfilled the requirements for the International Master title last month at the London Chess Classic, had no plans of playing here. “My coach (Sa Krishna) forced me to play here. In fact, even when I made my first IM norm, I had not played for a long time. So we did not want to repeat the same mistake. So, I came here with no expectations. I was happy to play again,” said Akash.

Rated 2415, Akash has so far performed at a rating of 2577, beating Ukrainian GMs Yuri solodovnichenko and Vitaly Sivuk besides holding three other GMs.

On a day when third seed Abhijeet Gupta lost to Vignesh and National champion M. R. Lalit Babu was comprehensively beaten by his good friend D. Bala Chandra Prasad, Nubairshah upstaged strong IM P. Karthikeyan for his maiden GM-norm. Like Akash, Nubairshah too has stayed unbeaten so far. His biggest victim was 10th seeded Ukrainian GM Tukhaev.

Shete, who had to face a Grandmaster in the ninth round to meet the stipulation of an IM norm, made it in spite of losing to Horvath.

The results (Indians unless stated):

Ninth round: Akash Iyer (7) drew with Arkadij Naiditsch (Aze, 8); Ziaur Rahman (Ban, 7.5) bt Sergey Tiviakov (Ned, 6.5); M. Karthikeyan (7) drew with Andrei Deviatkin (Rus, 7); Abhijeet Gupta (6) lost to N. R. Vignesh (7); Deep Sengupta (6.5) drew with Koustav Chatterjee (6.5); S. Nitin (6) lost to David Alerto (Ita, 7); Marat Dzhumaev (Uzb, 6.5) drew with Vaibhav Suri (6.5); Roeland Pruijssers (Ned, 6) lost to Muhammad Khusenkhojaev (Tjk, 7); Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh (7) bt P. Karthikeyan (6) Sammed Shete (6) lost to Adam Horvath (7).