World junior chess championship: Karthikeyan stuns Russian prodigy Volobar Murzin

Karthikeyan now shares the third spot with six points after he defeated Russian prodigy Volobar Murzin.

N. Priyanka (left) battled to a brilliant win over fifth-seeded compatriot R. Vaishali in the eighth round of the girls' section.   -  Rakesh Rao

Decisive battles proved to be the flavour of the day as medal aspirants fought relentlessly on the leading boards as the World junior chess championship inched towards the business end here on Tuesday.

Second seed M. Karthikeyan was the last to emerge triumphant after 82 moves in the eighth round that witnessed second to eight boards producing worthy winners. On the top board, seventh seed Evgeny Shtembuliak drew before he was joined at 6.5 points by Spain’s Miguel Ruiz Santos, who surprisingly outplayed R. Praggnanandhaa in just 28 moves.

For Praggnanandhaa’s sister, girls’ fifth seed R. Vaishali, too, it was time to learn a thing or two. After cracking the whip against N. Priyanka, Vaishali did not reckon the fighting abilities of her lesser-rated rival. Priyanka displayed all her grit and came up with a desperate rook-sacrifice. Later, she cashed in on Vaishali’s misreading of the position to win in 46 moves.

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On the second board, Divya Deshmukh escaped with a draw against Iran’s Mobina Alinasab and shared the third spot at six points. Fourth seed Russian Polina Shuvalova led with seven points.

Among the boys, the best show came from Karthikeyan. He came up with a patient display to defeat Russian prodigy Volobar Murzin, the lad who almost nailed Aravindh Chithambaram on Monday. Karthikeyan and three others share the third spot at six points, half a point behind the leaders.

Aravindh, playing black, scored over Rithvik Raja to be joint seventh with four others at 5.5 points.

The struggling girls’ top seed Zhu Jiner (4.5) agreed to a nine-move draw against USA’s Thaila Cervantes Landeiro while an indisposed Vantika Agarwal (4) gave a walkover to teammate C. Lakshmi (5).

Important eighth-round results (Indians unless stated):

Open: Shant Sargsyan (Arm, 5.5) drew with Evgeny Shtembuliak (Ukr, 6.5); Miguel Santos Ruiz (Esp, 6.5) bt R. Praggnanandhaa (5); M. Karthikeyan (6) bt Volodar Murzin (Rus, 5); Aram Hakobyan (Arm, 6) bt Semen Khanin (Rus, 5); Viktor Gazik (Svk, 5) lost to Mihnia Costachi (Rou, 6); N. R. Visakh (5) lost to Or Bronstein (Isr, 6); Rithvik Raja (4.5) lost to Aravindh Chithambaram (5.5); P. Iniyan (5) drew with Stefan Pogosyan (Rus, 5).

Girls: Polina Shuvalova (7) bt Bibisara Assaubayeva (Kaz, 5.5); Divya Deshmukh (6) drew with Mobina Alinasab (6.5); Dinara Dordzhieva Rus, 5.5) drew with Srishti Pandey (5.5); N. Priyanka (5.5) bt R. Vaishali (4.5); Rakshitta Ravi (4.5) lost to Aakanksha Hagawane (5.5); Li Yunshan (Chn, 5.5) bt Mrudul Dehankar (4.5); Arpita Mukherjee (5) drew with P. Supreetha (5).

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