Grandmasters Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Pendyala Harikrishna failed to hold their nerve in tense moments and lost their respective tenth round games to slip further in the World Juniors chess championship in Nakchivan, Azerbaijan.
Top seeded local star Shakhriyaz Mamedyarov strengthened his position at the top after beating Harikrishna Mamedyarov to take his tally to eight points and maintain his slender half point lead over Sergei Azarov of Belarus, who outmanoeuvred Ganguly.
Sergey Erenburg of Israel and Vitaly Bachin of Russia hold the joint third spot on seven points each while Ganguly and Harikrishna slipped to joint fifth position along with Alexander Zubov of Ukraine, Azerbaijani duo of Vugar Gashimov and Kadir Guseinov, Levan Pantsulaia of Georgia and Dimitros Mastrovasislis of Greece on 6.5 points apiece.
Three more rounds remain to be played in this prestigious championship.
In the girls' section, the winning run of Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia was finally halted as she drew her eighth round game with Ekaterina Ubiennykh of Russia. India's Dronavalli Harika held on to her sole second position after drawing with Afag Khudaverdieva of Azerbaijan from a nearly lost position.
Harika remained 1.5 points adrift of the leader on 6 points and is followed by Zeinab Mamedjarova of Azerbaijan on 5.5 points. A pack of five players, including Asian Junior girls' champion Tania Sachdev, remain in hunt for a medal with 5 points each in their kitty.
Harikrishna created chances for himself and his ability to play all kinds of openings came handy as he found a slight flaw in the repertoire of Mamedyarov. The middlegame was violent in the Glek variation and Harikrishna probably had just desired to have a go at the title.
Mamedyarov, to his credit, put his act together when it was needed most and did not budge under extreme complexities.
But Harikrishna fumbled and lost a pawn and the rest proved to be a vain attempt to hold the position. The Azerbaijani won on move 46 after giving an excellent endgame display.
Ganguly employed his pet Arkhengel variation against the Ruy Lopez against Azarov, who played white and opted for a fashionable variation. The pieces got traded at regular intervals and it appeared that the game was headed to a draw.
However, Azarov had other ideas when both were down to just three pawns, a minor pieces and a rook. Ganguly felt the heat soon after as white pieces coordinated extremely well and Azarov won a pawn on the 56th move getting two passed pawns for himself in addition to an attack against the trapped king.
Ganguly resigned on his 63rd turn.
Harika was lucky to salvage half a point in Kings Indian defence game with black pieces. Khudaverdieva played well in the middlegame and won a pawn with fine deployment of her forces but missed a simple continuation on the 40th move that allowed Harika to get back in the game.
The position still favoured the Azerbaijan a great deal but a few more mistakes thereafter forced the game into a level opposite colour Bishop endgame where the peace treaty was signed on move 62.
In other games involving Indians, G Rohit struck back and regained chances for his second International Master norm after defeating Giga Kuparadze of Georgia. Rohit moved to six points with this victory and now needs to score well against tougher opponents in the remaining games.
International Master P Magesh Chandran lost to Dmitry Schneider of the United States after battling on the black side of a Ruy Lopez opening and Abhijeet Gupta scored over Charles Monroy of France. S Arun Prasad settled for a truce with Johannes Mayedi Mabusela of South Africa.
In the girls' section, Tania Sachdev drew a slightly better endgame against higher rated Cristina Calotescu while Saheli Nath and Mahima Rajmohan lost to Mamedjarova Cecile and Henriette Van Der Merwe respectively.
Important results (Indians unless specified):
Boys' round 10: Shakhriyaz Mamedyarov (8, Aze) beat P Harikrishna (6.5); Sergei Azarov (7.5, Blr) beat Surya Shekhar Ganguly; Sergey Erenburg (7, Isr) beat Alexander Zubov (6.5, Ukr); Levan Pantsulaia (6.5, Geo) beat Izoria Zviad (5.5, Geo); Rustem Sadykov (5.5, Rus) lost to Kadir Guseinov (6.5, Aze); Dmitry Schneider (6, USA) beat P Mahesh Chandran (5); G Rohit (6) beat Giga Kuparadze; Deepan Chakkravarthy (4.5) drew Wang Hao Yuan (4.5, Can); S Arun Prasad (4.5) drew Johannes Mayedi Mabusela (4.5, RSA); Abhijeet Gupta (4.5) beat Charles Monroy (3.5, Fra).
Girls' round 8: Ekaterina Ubiennykh (5, Rus) drew Nana Dzagnidze (7.5, Geo); Afag Khudaverdieva (5, Aze) drew Dronavalli Harika (6); Tania Sachdev (5) drew Cristina Calotescu (5, Rom); Zeinab Mamedjarova (5.5, Aze) beat Saheli Nath (4.5); Turkan Mamedjarova (4, Aze) lost to Zehra Topel (5, Tur); Morales Mendoza Luciana (4.5, Per) drew Maria Sergeeva (4, Kaz); Makka Ioulia (4.5, Gre) beat Aytaj Ismailova (3.5, Aze); Martina Valickova (3.5, Cze) lost to Eesha Karavade (4.5); Nargiz Umudova (3.5, Aze) lost to Meihriban Shukurova (4, Aze); Mahima Rajmohan (3) lost to Cecile Henriette Van Der Merwe (4, RSA).