Overnight joint leader Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte surprisingly settled for a quick draw as lower ranked players took the honours in the fourth round of the third Parsvnath International Open Chess tournament in New Delhi on Wednesday.
International Master S Satyapragyan, R R Laxman, Deep Sen Gupta, R Preetham Sharma made the most of their opportunities to maintain a cent per cent win record and lead the 283-player fray with four points each.
Fifteen players, including top seed GM K Sasikiran, Kunte chase the leaders and are half-a-point adrift with seven rounds to go in this Rs six-lakh prize money event.
On the top board, Kunte, with black pieces, employed Retti opening and to the surprise of his opponent, D Sai Srinivas, offered for truce after just 12 moves.
The Andhra youngsters had little hesitation in accepting the draw offer to take his points tally to 3.5 points out of possible four.
Among the leaders, Satyapragyan played irregular opening and advanced in an 'unplanned' fashion which his Uzbek opponent IM Bahodir Holmirzaev could not counter and blundered with a pawn at g4 aiding the Indian's cause.
Also Laxman scored a full point from a win over WIM N Vinuthana, IM-elect Gupta defeated Amin-ul-Islam of Bangladesh while Preetam Sharma completed the leaders group by scoring over local challenger Himanshu Sharma.
Meanwhile, Sasikiran and R B Ramesh scored full points getting the better of Women Grandmaster Aarthie Ramaswamy and Manish Joshi respectively.
On the other top boards, GM Alexander Fomynih of Uzbekistan settled for a quick draw with V Saravanan, IM Anton Filippov drew M S Thej Kumar, B S Sivanandan signed peace with I M Anup Deshmukh of LIC and Asian junior champion S Arun Prasad split points with Enamul Hossain of Bangladesh.
Despite the low turn out of higher ranked players following the postponement of the Asian Individual Championships in the wake of tsunami disaster, the competition appears to be intense as most senior players managing hard fought wins or agreeing for draws so far.
Former National champion Dibyendu Barua continued to struggle as he barely managed to escape with a 78-move draw against Nikhilesh Kumar.