Grandmaster and National champion Parimarjan Negi suffered a setback, losing to his Chinese counterpart Bu Xiangzhi in the third round of the Asian Individual Chess Championship in Mashhad, Iran, on Thursday.
After victories in the first two games, Negi could not quite match the wily Chinese and will now have some catching up to do in the remaining six rounds.
Second seed Krishnan Sasikiran, however, came up with an inspired performance to outclass S P Sethuraman and P Harikrishna and showed his true mettle to crush Yu Ruiyuan of China.
Bu Xiangzhi emerged the sole leader with a perfect score, while Sasikiran, Harikrishna and four others are now on the heels of the leader with 2.5 points apiece.
Negi and fellow-Indians B Adhiban, Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Abhijeet Kunte share the eighth spot currently.
While this is a qualification tournament for the next World Championship cycle, Negi is the only Indian in the fray who has already made it to the next stage.
Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta is the only other Indian assured of a seat by virtue of his bronze medal performance last year in the same event.
D Harika came back strongly to remain within striking distance of leader Munguntuul Batkhuyag of Mongolia in the women's tournament.
In her third game, Harika got the better of Iranian talent Mitra Hejazipour while Batkhuyag defeated Irine Kharisma Sukander of Indonesia for her third victory.
Harika shares the second spot in this section with 2.5 points and has Chinese Huang Qian for company on the same points. Eesha Karavade and Mary Ann Gomes share the fifth spot with two points each.
Amongst the Indian girls, Eesha played out a draw with Nafisa Muminova of Uzbekistan while Mary Ann Gomes scored over Guliskhan Nakhbayeva of Kazakhstan.
Padmini Rout staged a comeback at the expense of Uzbek Yulduz Hamrakulova but Soumya Swaminathan and Swathi Ghate continued to struggle and need a major change in fortunes to make their presence felt.
Important and Indian results round 3 (Indians unless specified):
Men: Bu Xiangzhi (Chn, 3) beat Parimarjan Negi (2); Rinat Jumabayev (Kaz, 2.5) drew with Yu Yangyi (Chn, 2.5); S P Sethuraman (1.5) lost to Krishnan Sasikiran (2.5); Yu Ruiyuan (Chn, 1.5) lost to P Harikrishna (2.5); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2) drew with B Adhiban (2); Zhou Weiqi (Chn, 2) drew with Megaranto Susanto (Ina, 2); Amirreza Pourramezanali (Iri, 2.5) beat Cao Sang (Vie, 1.5); Wen Yang (Chn, 2.5) beat Anuar Ismagambetov (Kaz, 1.5); G N Gopal (1.5) drew with Lou Yiping (Chn, 1.5); E Ahmadinia (Iri, 1) lost to Abhijit Kunte (2); Yang Kaiqi (Chn, 1.5) beat M Shyam Sundar (0.5); Debashis Das (1.5) beat Vaibhav Suri (0); Vidit Gujrathi (1) beat Yang Ching Wei Austin (Tp1, 0).
Women: Irine Kharisma Sukander (Ina, 2) lost to Munguntuul Batkhuyag (Mgl, 3); D Harika (2.5) beat Mitra Hejazipour (Iri, 1.5); Ghazal Hakimifard (Iri, 1.5) lost to Huang Qian (Chn, 2.5); Eesha Karavade (2) drew with Nafisa Muminova (Uzb, 2); Tan Zhongy (Chn, 1.5) drew with Pham Le Thao Nguyen (Vie, 2); Atousa Pourkashiyan (Iri, 1) lost to Nguyen Thi Mai Hung (Vie, 2); Guliskhan Nakhbayeva (Kaz, 1) lost to Mary Ann Gomes (2); Minoo Asgarizadeh (Iri, 2) beat Swathi Ghate (1); Padmini Rout (1.5) beat Yulduz Hamrakulova (Uzb, 0.5); Ghader Pour Shayesteh (Iri, 1.5) beat Soumya Swaminathan (0.5).