Grandmaster R B Ramesh held top seed GM Evgeny Vladimirov of Kazkhstan to an easy draw to take joint-third position after the seventh round in the Masters section of 14th Abu Dhabi chess festival now in progress.
On a day that witnessed grueling battles for lead positions, GM Pendyala Harikrishna was held to a draw by Mahjoob Morteza of Iran and GM Tejas Bakre went down against his Russian counterpart Dmitry Bocharov.
Former Asian Junior girls' champion Tania Sachdev suffered a reversal at the hands of International Master Imad Hakki of Syria and though her second Women Grandmaster norm prospects have not suffered any severe blow, the Indian might just need to push a little more for her maiden IM norm.
Meanwhile, GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan of Iran was joined by GM Evegny Gleizerov of Russia and Pavel Kotsur of Kazakhstan at the top of the table on 5.5 points after the Iranian held on to his nerves and drew with Ashot Anastasian of Armenia in a long drawn game.
Bocharov and Anastansian are close behind the leaders on five points while a pack of nine players including Harikrishna and Ramesh are also in reckoning for top prizes with 4.5 points in their kitty when just two rounds remain in this US $16000 prize-money tournament being played under FIDEs Swiss rules.
Ramesh did not have much to do except play correctly against Vladimirov, who played the white side of an English opening. The Indian is respected for his opening preparation and Vladimirov was disappointed as he failed to get even a semblance of an advantage with the favourable colour.
In fact, fearing he might end up being worse, Vladimirov signed peace pact in just 16 moves.
Harikrishna tried hard against Morteza but his efforts did not come good as the latter kept his position together with black pieces.
It was the Capablanca variation of Nimzo Indian in the opening and the Iranian equalised almost by force, leading the game to a rook and minor piece ending wherein Harikrishna had a slightly inferior pawn structure. The draw was agreed to after 55 moves when Harikrishna could make no headway against a near impregnable black's position.
Tania was unlucky to lose against Hakki after putting up a spirited show. The Syrian had only a level position for the major part of the game till Tania blundered and lost a pawn without much compensation.
Tania is pitted against WGM Julia Mashinskaya of Russia, whose rating is less than her own, in the next round.
Currently Tania's performance rating is 2436 Elo points, which is quite sufficient for the second WGM norm if she scores even one point from remaining two matches. However, had Tania drawn the seventh round game, the norm would have been automatically made as she would have met another higher rated player.
Amongst other Indians in the fray, IM Neelotpal Das defeated Al-Tamimi Hamad of Qatar and Eesha Karvade accounted for Amer Mohamed of Egypt. Drawing their games were S Kidambi and Aarthie Ramswamy who signed peace with local interests Jasim A R Saleh and Mohamed Hossein respectively while WGM Nisha Mohota was on the receiving end against Konstantin Chernyshov of Russia.
Complete results round 7 (Indians unless specified): Ashot Anastasian (5, Arm) drew with Ghaem Maghami Ehsan (5.5, Iri); Pavl Kotsur (5.5, Kaz) beat Mikhail Kobalia (4.5, Rus); Evgeny Gleizerov (5.5, Rus) beat Artashes Minasian (4.5, Arm); Evgeny Vladimirov (4.5, Kaz) drew with R B Ramesh (4.5); P Harikrishna (4.5) drew with Mahjoob Morteza (4.5, Iri); Dmitry Bocharov (5, Rus) beat Tejas Bakre (4); Tissir Mohamed (4, Mar) drew with Artyom Timofeev (4, Rus); Marat Dzhumaev (4.5, Uzb) beat Sergey Kayumov (4.5, Uzb); Ramil Hasangatin (4.5, Rus) beat Kivanc Haznedaroglu (3.5, Tur); Safin Shukhrat (4, Uzb) drew with Jasper Lauridsen (4, Den); Zeinab Mamediarova (4, Aze) drew with Taleb Moussa (4, Uae); Imad Hakki (4.5, Syr) beat Tania Sachdev (4); Konstantin Chernyshov (4, Rus) beat Nisha Mohota (3); Tahir Vakhidov (4, Uzb) beat Nezad Husein Aziz (3, Qat); Elshan Moradiabadi (3, Iri) lost to Abdullah Hassan (4, Uae); Shadi Paridar (3, Iri) lost to Yannick Gozzoli (4, Fra), Saidali Iuldacev (3, Uzb) drew with Julia Mashinskaya (3.5, Rus); Alexander Raetsky (3, Rus) drew with Mikhail Ulibin (3, Rus); Faruk Bistric (3, Bih) drew with Firuza Velikhanli (3, Aze); S Kidambi (3) drew with Jasim A R Saleh (3, UAE); Neelotpal Das (3) beat Al-Tamimi Hamad (2.5, Qat); Mohamed Hossein (3, UAE) drew with Aarthie Ramaswamy (2.5); Atousa Pourkashiyan (3, IRI) beat Saleh Nabil (2, UAE); Tayeb Suhail (2.5, UAE) drew with Illijin Neboisa (2.5, Rom); Eesha Karavade (3) beat Amer Mohamed (2, Egy); James Coleman (2, Eng) lost to Adina-Maria Bogza (2.5, Rom); Khalil Ibrahim (1.5, UAE) drew with Saleh Najueb (1.5, UAE).