Sarin beats Parligras, set to become next Grandmaster

Taking his tally to 4.5 points from six rounds, Nihal needs a fifty per cent score in the last three rounds to get him the coveted GM title.

Nihal Sarin beat higher rated Grandmaster Mircea-Emilian Parligras of Romania in the sixth round of Abu Dhabi Masters. (File Photo)   -  Special Arrangement

Young international master (IM) Nihal Sarin made his final stride towards the third and last Grandmaster (GM) norm, as he beat higher rated Grandmaster Mircea-Emilian Parligras of Romania in the sixth round of Abu Dhabi Masters.

Taking his tally to 4.5 points from six rounds, Nihal currently clocks a performance rating of over 2700, and a fifty per cent score in the last three rounds should get him the coveted GM title.

Playing the white side of a queen pawn game, the 14-year-old Kerala boy looked in control as he capitalised on an opportunity to play in the centre and netted a pawn in the ensuing complexities arising out of the middle game.

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Parligras realised that the endgame he ventured into was not so easy and easily caved in when faced with the prospects of losing second pawn. The game lasted 67 moves.

A tight race

Even as Daniil Dubov of Russia and Anton Korobov shot in to a joint lead on 5.5 points apiece, beating Levan Pantsulaia of Georgia and Wang Hao of China respectively, the focus was around the Indian youngsters trying to make their mark with a strong presence.

The two leaders are solely pursued by local hero A R Salem Saleh who is a half point behind. As many as 16 players share the joint fourth spot on 4.5 points including S. L. Narayanan, Murali Karthikeyan, Aravindh Chithambaram and Sarin.

While Nihal remains the top favourite for the GM norm, Erigaisi Arjun and P Iniyan kept themselves in contention following draws against Adly Ahmed of Egypt and Davit Jojua of Georgia respectively.

Among those running for IM norms, Aaryan Varhsney came back from the jaws of defeat to win against Raunak Sadhwani and keep himself in contention, while 12-year-old Pranav Anand was at his exceptional best while beating compatriot Grandmaster M. Shyam Sundar.

Another talent Dushyant Sharma kept himself in the hunt after letting slip a better position against GM S Kidambi.