It was a black day for players with white pieces in the Commonwealth Chess Champsionship in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Grandmaster Sherbakov Ruslan of Russia (3.5 points), IM Neetlopal Das of India (3.5) and IM R B Ramesh, also from India, (3.5) lost while playing with them.
Grandmasters Dibyendu Barua of India (4.5), China's Zhang Peng Xiang (4.5) and Vietnam's Nnguyen Anh Dung (4.5) scored facile wins with black pieces to share the lead with four-and-half points each at the end of fifth round of the tournament, organised by the Venus Chess Academy under the auspices of the Maharashtra Chess Association and the All India Chess Association and co-sponsored by the Union Bank of India and the ONGC, at Hotel Tulip Star.
Hot favourites, Grandmasters Rustom Kasimzhanov (Uzbekistan) and Krishnan Sasikiran (India) fell behind when they were held to a draw by Grandmasters Abhijit Kunte (India) and Sukhrat Safin (Uzbekistan) respectively. They are now on four points and are just behind the leaders in joint second spot.
Vietnam GM Nguyen Anh Dung scored over Sherbakov Ruslan to earn a full point. In a Nimzo Indian game, Dung overpowered his opponent in 37 moves.
Young Indian IM Neelotpal Das (3.5), who shocked GM Pendyala Harikrishna yesterday, suffered a loss at the hands of China's Zhang Peng Xiang. Zhang demolished Neelotpal in a Sicilian-Paulsen game in just 27 moves.
GM Dibyendu Barua was the only Indian who managed to remain in the joint lead when he beat fellow-Indian and British champion IM R B Ramesh, in a French-Tarrasch game, Barua outwitted Ramesh in 42 moves.
The fifth round proved to be pretty normal with no major upsets apart from IM Tejas Bakre (2), who was shocked by Akshayraj Kore (3).
Among the Indian players GM Harikrishna (2.5) suffered his second defeat in the championship when N Sudhakar Babu (3.5) beat him.
GM Koneru Humpy (2.5) managed to score a full point when she defeated K Lakshmi Praneetha. Veteran Indian GM Pravin Thipsay won his game against WIM Nisha Mohota to move to three points.
On the first table Rustom Kasimzhanov (4) and Abhijit Kunte (4) ended their games in a draw with just 20 moves being played.
India's chess spearhead in the championship GM Sasikiran (4) had to settle for a draw against GM Safin Kukrat (4) (Uzbekistan).
In a Queen's Gambit accepted game, Safin, playing with white pieces, managed to stop Sasi from gaining a full point. Safin drew the game in 33 moves.
On the third board, GM Ghaem Meghami (4) turned up a bit late for his game against GM Evgeny Vladimirov (4) Without wasting anymore time both the players agreed for a short and tame draw which lasted for just 7 moves.
The stage seems to be all set for some exciting days to chess as 138 players are batting with each other to emboss their name on the championship trophy. The tournament is half way through and there is still no sign of a clear leader emerging out there.