Arjun Erigaisi, D. Gukesh and Aryan Chopra won to stay ahead but Harsha Bharathakoti let Abhijeet Gupta off the hook and missed joining the leaders at four points after as many rounds of the MPL National chess championship here on Saturday.

On a day when Bengal-lad Kaustav Chatterjee (3.5) surprisingly held top seed B. Adhiban and stunned fifth seed S. P. Sethuraman, two-time champions M. Karthikeyan and Aravindh Chithambaram drew twice.

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Besides Koustav, the young brigade at 3.5 points included Harsha, Mitrabha Guha, Aditya Mittal  and Aronyak Ghosh. Also in the mix are two former champions Abhijeet and M. R. Lalith Babu.

Arjun punished S. Ravi Teja, third in the last edition, in 43 moves, Gukesh needed 40 moves to stop Utsab Chatterjee and Aryan produced a nice tactical stroke to destroy Anustoop Biswas in just 27 moves.

So far in the four rounds, only a few leading players have been able to play to their ratings. On the other hand, notwithstanding the testing depth of the field, a number of lower-rated players are performing way above their unchanged rating of nearly two years owing to the pandemic.

The biggest example was the way Koustav performed on Saturday. After frustrating Adhiban (rated 2648) for 73 moves in an even battle, Koustav (2466) returned to torment Sethuraman (2619). In a locked position, Koustav managed to force an err from Grandmaster on the 50th move and won eight moves later following sustained aggression on the castled black king.

Facing the well-planted pawn-chain, the strategic squares occupied by the queen and bishop, backed by doubled rooks, Sethurman saw no point in continuing.

Important results:
Fourth round: Arjun Erigaisi (4) bt S. Ravi Teja (3); Harsha Bharathakoti (3.5) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (3.5); Ustab Chatterjee (3) lost to D. Gukesh (4); Anustoop Biswas (3) lost to Aryan Chopra (3); Srijit Paul (2.5) lost to B. Adhiban (3.5); M. Karthikeyan (3) drew with N. R. Vignesh (3); Koustav Chatterjee (3.5) bt S. P. Sethuraman (2.5); Abhimanyu Puranik (3) drew with R. R. Laxman (3); M. R. Lalith Babu (3.5) bt Shahil Dey (2.5); Deep Sengupta (3) drew with L. R. Srihari (3); Deepan Chakkravarthy (3) drew with Sidhant Mohapatra (3); Mitrabha Guha (3.5) bt K. Ratnakaran (2.5); Aditya Mittal (3.5) bt Ritviz Parab (2.5); Aronyak Ghosh (3.5) bt Arpan Das (2.5); P. Iniyan (3) bt Kashish Jain (2.5).

Third round: Adhiban drew with Koustav; Laxman drew with Karthikeyan; Sethuraman drew with Paul; Shahil drew with Aravindh; Srihari drew with Lalith; Parab drew with Mitrabha; Swapnil Dhopade (2) lost to Utsab; N. R. Visakh (1.5) lost to Anustoop; Sankalp Gupta (2) drew with P. Saravana Krishnan (2); C. R. G. Krishna (2) drew with Aradhya Garg (2); Sharsha Backer (2) bt Vishnu Prasanna (1); Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh (1.5) drew with Nilsu Pattnayank (1.5); Ashutosh Kumar (2) bt Sriram Jha (1).