After finishing runner-up in the rapid event, Arjun Erigaisi is making a strong bid for a top prize in the blitz section of the Tata Steel Chess India tournament as well. He goes into the final day as the sole leader.
At the end of the ninth round at the National Library here on Saturday, Arjun, last year’s rapid champion and runner-up in blitz, has 6.5 points. With another nine rounds remaining, he is followed half-a-point behind by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan.
Vidit Gujrathi has 5.5 points, while Nihal Sarin, the champion in the rapid section, is on five, along with top seed Hikaru Nakamura of the United States. Arjun had beaten the American with black pieces in the eighth round and his only defeat of the day came against Mamedyarov in the sixth.
In the women’s section, R. Vaishali is in the second position, with seven points, trailsing the sole leader Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine by one point. Dronavalli Harika, who had finished third in the rapid event, is sharing the third spot, with Muzychuk’s older sister Anna.
Vaishali scored some significant wins against Georgia’s Nana Dzagnidze, fellow-Indian Koneru Humpy and Ukraine’s Anna Ushenina, the winner of the women’s rapid event. It was, however, another Indian girl that caught the eye in the early rounds, three of which were won on the trot by B. Savitha Shri, who beat Dzagnidze and the elder of the Muzychuk sisters, but could not build on that momentum.
The results (Indians unless specified)
Open: R. Praggnanandhaa 4 lost to Hikaru Nakamura (US) 5; Wesley So (US) 3 bt D. Gukesh 4; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze) 6 lost to Vidit Gujrathi 5.5; Maghsoodloo Parham (IRI) 4 drew with Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb) 2; Arjun Erigaisi 6.5 drew with Nihal Sarin 5.
Women: Oliwia Kiolbasa (Pol) 3 lost to Koneru Humpy 4.5; Anna Ushenina (Ukr) 4 lost to R. Vaishali 7; Dronavalli Harika 5 bt B. Savitha Shri 4; Nana Dzagnidze (Geo) lost to Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr) 8; Bhakti Kulkari 2.5 bt Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) 5.