International Master-norm holder Vishal Sareen caused a flutter, defeating Grandmaster Surya Sekhar Ganguly in the fifth round while Grandmaster Pendyala Harikrishna and Grandmaster-norm holder R B Ramesh moved into the joint lead in the Parsvnath International Chess tournament in Delhi on Sunday.
Harikrishna and Ramesh recorded their fifth straight victories in as many rounds, beating N K Mishra and Abhijeet Gupta respectively, to occupy the drivers' seat with six rounds remaining.
But the day belonged to LIC's Sareen, who took advantage of his higher-rated opponent's mistake in the middle game to garner full points and place himself half a point behind the leaders in the five-player group in second position.
Top seed GM Dmitry Svetushkin of Moldova, GM Jonathan Rowson of Scotland, Bangladesh's GM Niaz Murshed and Sriram Jha are the other players in second place.
Sareen, who opted for Queen pawn opening, took advantage of a positional error by Ganguly on the 12th move and then opened a two-pawn advantage in the middle game to win in 43 moves.
Asian women's champion Koneru Humpy kept her title hopes alive as she scratched through to full points against Valay Parikh in 63 moves to be placed third along with 23 others.
Today's round augured well for the Indians as WGM Nisha Mohota and Balasubramanium held GMs Sergei Ovestivitij of Ukranine and Saiali Iuldachev of Uzbekistan respectively to draws.
Svetushkin and Jha were lucky enough to garner full points from their encounters as last night's joint leader Rahul Shetty and WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy went down from seemingly winning positions.
Meanwhile, Rowson took advantage of the rules to defeat Prathamesh Mokal in 90 moves.
Mokal had given a call for a draw as the same position was repeated thrice. But the Scotland GM raised a technical objection to the same, on the grounds that Mokal had not written the move before calling the arbitrator, which was upheld.
The two rounds on the morrow will definitely be mouth-watering proposition, with Harikrishna crossing swords with Ramesh in the morning.
Important fifth round results (Indians if not mentioned otherwise): P Harikrishna 5.0 beat N K Mishra 4.0, R B Ramesh 5.0 beat Abhijeet Gupta 4.0, Rahul Shetty 4.0 lost to Svetushkin (MDA) 4.5, Prathamesh Mokal 3-5 lost to Jonathan Rowson (SCO) 4.5, Abhijeet Kunte 4.0 drew K Visweswaran 4.0, Vishal Sareen 4.5 beat S S Ganguly 3.5, R Balasubramanium 4.0 drew S Iuldachev (UZB) 4.0, Aarthie Ramaswamy 3.5 lost to Sriram Jha 4.5, Saifuddin (BAN) 3.5 lost to Niaz Murshed (BAN) 4.5, C S Gokhale 4.0 drew Himanshu Sharma 4.0, Tahir Vakhidov (UZB) 4.0 beat Syed Anwar Shazuli 3.5, A Fominyh (RUS) 4.0 beat Rafiq Khan 3.0, S Ovestivitij (UKR) 3.5 drew Nisha Mohota 3.5, M Dzhumaev (UZB) 4.0 beat Rahul Sangma 3.0, Valay Parikh 3 lost to Koneru Humpy 4, Lanka Ravi 4.0 beat Manthan Choksi 3.0, J S Gokhale 3.0 lost to S Kidambi 4.0, Neelotpal Das 4.0 beat C Natarajan 3.0, Saptarshi Roy Choudhury 4.0 beat D P Singh 3.0.