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Kolkata, May 19: Ivan Rozum of Russia shot into the lead with five points from as many rounds by defeating fellow Grandmaster Deep Sengupta in the 3rd International Grandmaster Chess Tournament at Newtown School here on Friday.
Top seeded Nigel Short and National Champion M.R.Lalith Babu traded pieces at regular intervals to draw their game on the second table.
But Narayanan Srinath with Black pieces scored a crucial victory over former World Junior Champion Abhijeet Gupta to reach 4.5 points, joined by Farrukh Amonatov (Tajikistan) and Adam Tukhaev (Ukraine) to closely follow the leader, while they are followed by a large group of 15 players on 4 points.
Rozum has been clearly impressive so far, showing an attractive positional style of play exerting pressure on opponents from simple looking positions. In such a game, Sengupta surprisingly weakened his pawn structure on the 35th move, and blundered away an exchange 49th move to lose the game.
Local lad Rajdeep Sarkar was impressive to hold a draw against Grandmaster Shyam Sundar to move to 3.5 points, while prodigious talent Nihal Sarin came back into the reckoning by defeating Arjun Kalyan to move to 4 points.
Abhijeet Gupta and Srinath Narayanan were involved in a topsy-turvy tactical battle, where the tense position always seemed to have dynamic equality. But Gupta’s play weakened around the 3rd hour of play, and he blundered a piece on the 44th move.
Having attracted a total of 65 titled players and many more with high ratings, the event is also an opportunity for many untitled players to score title ‘Norms’. Enabling the players to achieve coveted titles awarded by the World Chess Federation, namely Grandmaster, International Master, Woman Grandmaster and Woman International Master.
For a non-titled player to achieve such Norms, it is important to get a decent start at the beginning of the tournament and play against highly rated opponents consistently. As the tournament crosses the half way mark, this is a time when players get aware of chances of scoring Norms, as well as targets in points in the remaining rounds to score.
In this event, Tamil Nadu youngsters Gukesh and Vignesh are the front-runners to score Grandmaster norms, as they have performed admirably against their quality opposition so far. But Vignesh lost his first game of the event to Grandmaster Adam Tukhaev, while Gukesh held his own against Grandmaster Vishnu Prasanna.
For a 12 year old, Gukesh has a surprisingly solid style of play with controlled use of pieces over the board, especially not committing any structural weaknesses.
Such a style of play combined with playing White pieces makes him a tough customer to handle. This can be a difficult deal if the opponent happens to be a higher rated player who will be looking forward to defeat the youngster but will not find any clear line of play.
Such a task awaited Grandmaster Vishnu Prasanna in this round, and he even took a risk by creating an isolated pawn for himself, but nevertheless agreed for a draw after 32 moves.
After the turmoil of the 4th round, Aravindh Chithambaram crashed to his second successive defeat to IM Rahul Sangma to stay at 2.5 points.