Uzbekistan Grandmasters Saidali Iuldashev and Dzhumaev Marat joined overnight leader GM Dibyendu Barua in lead after the conclusion of the 9th round in the Tata International Open Chess tournament in Jamshedpur on Saturday.
The three have 7.5 points apiece and are half a point ahead of GMs Surya Shekhar Ganguly, P Harikrishna, Alexander Fominyh of Russia, International Master Tahir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan and local youngster Deep Sengupta.
As many as 11 players, including Grandmaster-in-waiting R B Ramesh and GM Abhijit Kunte, have 6.5 points each.
Barua was content with a half point with white pieces in the morning round when he did not obtain a desirable position against Fominyh's Sicilian Paulsen.
While it was a day of draws on the top boards, Sengupta stole the thunder. The former world under-12 champion beat top seed Dmitry Svetushkin of Moldova with black pieces in just 32 moves.
He also held highly regarded Fominyh in the afternoon session to inch closer to his second International Master norm.
M Srinivas Rao was another good performer of the day as he turned the tables on Grandmaster Zia-ur Rahman of Bangladesh from a nearly lost position and held Zia's compatriot GM Niaz Murshed to a draw.
Important results round 9 (Indians unless specified):
S S Ganguly (7) drew Dibyendu Barua (7.5); Saidali Iuldashev (7.5, Uzb) beat Sergei Ovsejevitsch (6.5, Ukr); Deep Sengupta (7) drew Alexander Fominyh (7, Rus); Marat Dzhumaev (7.5) Uzb) beat V Saravanan (6.5); M Srinivas Rao (6.5) drew Niaz MUrshed (6.5, Ban); P Harikrishna (7) beat Anup Deshmukh (6); Tahir Vakhidov (7, Uzb) beat Manish Kumar (6); Abhijit Kunte (6.5) beat K Ratnakaran (6); Atanu Lahiri (5.5) lost to R B Ramesh (6.5); Somak Palit (5.5) lost to S KIdambi (6.5); Amit Pal Singh (6) drew Rahul Shetty (6).