Abhijit Gupta gave yet another inspired performance to hold Grandmaster Pavel Kotsur of Kazakhstan in the seventh round of the Dubai International Open chess championship to take a step closer to his third and final International Master norm.
The 15-year-old, who had some very tough games in the competition, took his tally to 4.5 points out of a possible seven and is now all set to become the youngest International Master in the country.
In the eighth and penultimate round, the Bhilwara-based teenager is set to play compatriot GM Abhijit Kunte.
The other IM norm hopefuls, 12-year old Parimarjan Negi and G Rohit, 15, also remained on track for their norms though both failed to earn full points from their respective boards.
Negi played a fine game to hold Grandmaster Mikheil Mchedlishvili of Georgia but Rohit went down to GM Al-Modaihki Mohamad of Qatar.
Both the Indian youngsters have now an identical score of four points and require two draws in their remaining games against quality opposition to achieve the feat.
At the top, overnight leaders Ashot Anastasian of Armenia and Georgians Georgi Kacheishvili and Merab Gagunashvili were joined by the Chinese duo of Zhang Pengxiang and Zhang Zhong on
5.5 points following another spate of draws on higher boards.
As many as 15 players including top seed Alexander Motylev of Russia and Kiril Georgiev of Bulgaria are on the heels of the leaders with five points apiece while Kunte, GM Koneru Humpy and Gupta are in the next group of 22 players, on 4.5 points each.
Important results, round 7 (Indians unless specified):
Ashot Anastasian (Arm, 5.5) drew with Merab Gagunashvili (Geo, 5.5); Georgi Kacheishvili (Geo, 5.5) drew with Viorel Iordachescu (Mda, 5); Adly Ahmed (Egy, 5) drew with A Motylev (Rus, 5); Tamaz Gelashvili (Geo, 5) drew with Kiril Georgiev (Bul, 5); S Mamedyarov (Aze, 4.5) lost to Z Pengxiang (Chn, 5.5); Zahar Efimenko (Ukr, 5) drew with Wang Yue (Chn, 5); A Riazantsev (Rus, 5) drew with Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 5); Zhang Zhong (Chn, 5.5) beat Zurab Sturua (Geo, 4.5): Ni Hua (Chn, 4.5) drew with Wang Hao (Chn, 5); Abhijit Kunte (4.5) drew with Aleksej Aleksandrov (Blr, 4.5); Bu Xiangzhi (Chn, 5) beat Sandipan Chanda (4); Lanka Ravi (4) lost to Gabriel Sargissian (Arm, 5); Evgeny Vladimirov (Kaz, 4.5) drew with Koneru Humpy (4.5); Abhijit Gupta (4.5) drew with Pavel Kotsur (Kaz, 4.5); Solak Dragan (Scg, 4.5) drew with Sundararajan Kidambi (4.5); Al-Modiahki Mohamad (Qat, 5) beat G Rohit (4); Sergey Volkov (Rus, 4) drew with R B Ramesh (4); D Sai Srinivas (3.5) lost to Sergey Fedorchuk (Ukr, 4.5); Parimarjan Negi (4) drew with Mikheil Mchedlishvili (Geo, 4); Omkar Patwardhan (3.5) lost to Al Sayed Mohamad (Qat, 4.5); Maxim Sorokin (Rus, 4) beat Eesha Karavade (3); Shashikant Kutwal (4) beat Dmitry Svetushkin (Mda, 3); G Balaji (3) lost to Zhao Xue (Chn, 4); S Sethuraman (3) lost to Mohamed Tissir (Mar, 3); Tea Bosboom-Lanchava (Ned, 4) beat C N Vaidya (3); S Mari Arul (3) drew with Elmir Guseinov ( Aze, 3); Kruttika Nadig (2.5) lost to Rahul Shetty (3.5); Aswin Jayaram (3.5) beat Al-Zendani Zendan (Yem, 2.5); Safarli Eltaj (Aze, 3.5) beat N Srinath (2.5).