Top seed Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran registered his third consecutive win to join International Master R R Laxman at the top after the sixth round of the Parsvanath International Open Chess tournament in New Delhi on Thursday.
Sasikiran beat B S Sivanandan to score the full point while Laxman was held to a draw by GM Abhijit Kunte on the top board at the Bapu Samaj Seva Kendra.
With five rounds remaining in this Rs six-lakh prize money event, 11 players trail the leaders by half a point in the second spot.
Laxman, who had a cent per cent win record till the previous round, played it safe and accepted the truce offered by his more fancied opponent after just 10 moves. Kunte, with black pieces, played an irregular queen-pawn opening.
Sasikiran, who played white, employed the Torre attack and capitalised on Sivanandan's mistakes to win in 33 moves.
Sivanandan blundered with h3 on his 20th move giving a big advantage to the seasoned GM.
IMs S Satyapragyan, Deep Sengupta and Verughese Koshy drew their matches with IM Anton Filippov, GM Dmitry Kayumov and GM Alexander Fominyh, all of Uzbekistan, on the top boards to be joint second with five points.
Another GM R B Ramesh drew with V Saravanan to be joint third with 4.5 points while veteran GM Dibyendu Barua, after settling for draws in last two rounds, finally tasted a win against Soumya Swaminathan to take his tally to four points.
Saravanan opted for Sicilian English Attack and exchanged pieces quite early. But with the position repeating he agreed for peace after 27 moves.
Former national champion Barua beat Soumya after playing draws with Nikhilesh Kumar and Samakov Nurdin in the last two matches respectively.
In the morning session, Laxman, the overnight joint leader, defeated National Under-23 champion Preetam Sharma with black pieces in 63 moves.
Sharma opted for a Hedge-Hogg closed variation but Laxman made the most of the king-pawn endgame to score the full point.
Sasikiran, who also played with black pieces, opted for a Queen's Gambit Accepted and then maintained his advantage to beat M S Thejkumar in 41 moves while Kunte fought hard to defeat Asian Junior hampion S Arun Prasad in 61 moves.