Grandmasters Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Sandipan Chanda played out a fighting draw amongst themselves to remain in joint lead after the conclusion of the third round at the Gibtelecom Masters International Open Chess tournament at La Caleta hotel, Gibraltar on Friday.
The two overnight leaders took their tally to 2.5 points out of a possible three and were joined by Russian Grandmasters Alexey Kuzmin and Ernesto Inarkiev, GM Mark Hebden of England, GM Paul Motwani of Scotland, GM Joseph Gallagher of Switzerland and International Master Christian Seel of Germany.
On another fine day for the Indian contingent GM P Harikrishna scored his second successive victory over Andrew Dunn of England. Registering his first victory was IM Tejas Bakre who accounted for Arne Hagesaether of Norway and also took his tally to two points.
Woman Grandmaster norm holder Swati Ghate made a giant leap forward for her final WGM norm after scoring over Grandmaster Sergei Beshukov of Russia. Swati also moved to two points. Also scoring fine victories were International Master S VIjayalakshmi who put her second round loss behind her and crashed through the defences of Spaniard Jose Rios.
Former Commonwealth champion Dibyendu Barua, had to suffer for a long time before he finally managed to salvage a half point against GM Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria. Stefanova had beaten Harikrishna in the first round. Barua employed the Slav defence with his black pieces and went for a risky variation in the middle game that involved a pawn sacrifice. Much to his dismay, Stefanova digested the offered material without much ado and was apparently cruising home for another fine performance.
However, as the rook and pawns endgame approached, Barua was able to enthuse some life in a clearly inferior position and cashed in on a simple endgame mistake by Stefanova to get the draw. "It was hopelessly lost but I somehow survived," said Barua, who has a natural penchant for holding inferior positions.
Like Barua, Sandipan also struggled for a long time against Ganguly who played white. The middle game had Ganguly in fine fettle as Sandipan had a scattered pawn structure on both flanks but he managed to keep opposite colour Bishops on board to eventually steer the game to a drawn rook and minor piece ending.
British champion Abhijit Kunte got a creditable draw with black against second seed Alexei Dreev of Russia. It was a Nimzo Indian defence where Dreev opted for his pet Capablanca variation but found Abhijit well armed. The players just got a level position on board after the opening and Dreev decided against pressing hard.
Top seed and Commonwealth champion Nigel Short was held to a draw yet again by another English Bogdan Lalic. Short just could not do anything with black as Lalic went for equalising right from the beginning of a Queen's Gambit declined game. The peace treaty was signed in a mere 14 moves.
Mark Hebden defeated compatriot Nigel Davies while Mohamed Al Sayed of Qatar lost to Paul Motwani in other important games of the day.
Important results round 3 (Indians unless specified):
Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2.5) drew with Sandipan Chanda (2.5); Bogdan Lalic (2, Eng) drew with Nigel Short (2, Eng); Alexei Dreev (2, Rus) drew with Abhijit Kunte (2); Ernesto Inarkiev (2.5, Rus) beat Bojan Vuckovic (1.5,Ser); Alexey Kuzmin (2.5, Rus) beat Angelis Del Rio (1.5, Esp); Antoaneta Stefanova (2, Bul) drew with Dibyendu Barua (2); Mark Hebden (2.5, Eng) beat Nigel Davies (1.5, Eng); Mohamad Al Sayed (1.5, Qat) lost to Paul Motwani (2.5, Sco); Juan Bellon Lopez (1.5, Esp) lost to Joseph Gallagher (2.5, Sui); Chris Ward (1.5, Eng) lost to Christian Seel (2.5, Ger); P Harikrishna (2) beat Andrew Dunn (1.5, Eng); Swati Ghate (2) beat Sergei Beshukov (1, Rus); Arne Hagesaether (1, Nor) lost to Tejas Bakre (2); Jose Rios (1, Esp) lost to S Vijayalakshmi (2).