World Junior Champion P Harikrishna continued to be in title contention with a crucial win against Bu Xiangzhi of China in the ninth round of the second Sanjin Hotel Cup Grandmasters chess tournament in China.
With his seventh win in nine games, Harikrishna retained his slender half a point lead over Alexander Motylev of Russia who had a smooth sailing over Grandmaster Tigran Petrosian of Armenia.
It is now down to a race between Harikrishna and the former Russian champion in the remaining two rounds of this category-15 round-robin tournament.
Despite the loss to the Indian GM, Bu Xiangzhi remained in sole third spot with 5.5 points as his nearest contenders fell apart.
Wang Yue of China was joint fourth along with Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine and Ni Hua of China with five points each in their kitty.
Having lost his 8th round game to Motylev it was imperative for Harikrishna to comeback in full swing and he did precisely that.
Xiangzhi, once the youngest GM in the World, was no match for the Indian stalwart, playing white, as he fell like nine pins in just 36 moves after the complexities took the centre stage in the Closed Sicilian opening.
Motylev accounted for out of form Tigran Petrosian of Armenia who had a fantastic start in the event. By winning with black, Motylev made sure that the difference between him and Harikrishna did not go out of reach.
Results round 9: P Harikrishna (Ind, 7.5) beat Bu Xiangzhi (Chn, 5.5); Tigran Petrosian (Arm, 4) lost to Alexander Motylev (Rus, 7); Zhang Zhong (Chn, 3.5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Ukr, 5); Luke McShane (Eng, 2.5) lost to Zhang Pengxiang (Chn, 3.5); Wnag Hao (Chn, 3.5) lost to Ni Hua (Chn, 5); Zhao Xue (Chn, 2) beat Wang Yue (Chn, 5).