S P Sethuraman's good work paid off as he secured his maiden International Master norm with a yet another brilliant victory over IM Sergei Simonenko of Turkmenistan in the eighth and penultimate round of the Dubai [ Images ] International Open chess championship.
The Chennai-based teenager, who has so far lost only his third round game in the event, took his tally to 5.5 points after a win with white pieces against the titled player.
The Indian just needs to appear for the final game against compatriot Grandmaster R B Ramesh.
Women International Master Kruttika Nadig also made a strong stride forward towards her maiden Women Grandmaster norm by scoring a thumping victory against WIM Atousa Pourkashiyan of Iran.
Besides, Kruttika is also running for the best lady player prize in this USD 40000 prize money tournament.
The other Indian running for a norm was M R Lalith Babu who also had it easy against local star Jasim A R Saleh.
Not much changed at the top of the tables as all overnight leaders played it safe to get easy draws. With just one round remaining the lead was shared by Armenian GMs Gabriel Sargissian, Tigran Petrosian and Sergey Fedorchuk of Ukraine who all were on 6.5 points while a pack of seven players followed on 6 points each.
With just one round remaining, Ramesh, double GM norm holder Parimarjan Negi and Sethuraman were the only Indians in contention of finishing in the top 10 as all are on 5.5 points each.