Parimarjan Negi went down to second seed Grandmaster Michal Krasenkow of Poland in the eighth round and bowed out of the championship race in the Hogeschool Zeeland International chess tournament in Vlissingen, the Netherlands.
After an excellent performance thus far, Negi, the youngest Grandmaster in the world, was outdone in a positional battle by the highly-regarded Krasenkow.
On a bad day for Indians in the fray, none of them could secure a full point on the important penultimate day of the nine-round Swiss tournament.
Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua was the only silver lining as he put up stiff resistance to hold Dutch GM Friso Nijboer.
As things stand, with one round remaining, Krasenkow, GM Erwin L'Ami of Holland and GM Vyacheslav Ikonnikov of Russia share the lead on seven points, while Barua is in joint fourth spot along with four others.
In the final round, the seasoned Indian is slated to meet Dutch GM John Van der Wiel and a victory might still help Barua finish in a tie for the top spot.
After the loss, Negi remained on six points and is now sharing ninth spot. In the final round, the Delhi-based player meets local hopeful Jiska Helgi Dam.
Amongst other Indians in the fray, International-Master-to-be Saptarshi Roy is placed on 5.5
points following his draw with Petra Schuurman of Holland. IM Roktim Bandyopadhyay suffered a defeat at the hands of young Dutch GM Daniel Stellwagen and remained on five points while
IM Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury's peaceful draw with Spanish Mombiela Gonzalo also took him to the five points bracket.
Negi played the black side of a Queen's Indian defense and could not cope with a set up that gives white a small but lasting advantage.
The middle game surfaced with Krasenkow making progress on the kingside with pawn advances while Negi could not time his counter play to perfection in the meantime on the other flank.
The game took a decisive shape when Krasenkow opened the centre on his 34th turn and Negi was saddled with a passive position. A tactical finesse by the Polish player resulted in some forced exchanges and faced with losing material, Negi called it a day on his 43rd move.
Barua played his pet French defense as black against Nijboer and the game took shape in a Winawer variation wherein the Dutchman sacrificed a pawn early in the middle game to open lines.
Playing patiently, Barua gave importance to basics and completed his development in quick time and just while Nijboer was planning to execute a kingside attack, came up with his counter play to open lines on the queenside.
Nijboer did well to win an exchange by force in a tactical melee but Barua kept himself in the game through some timely exchanges that eventually made his position impregnable. The peace was signed after 64 moves.
Important and Indian results round 8:
Michal Krasenkow (Pol, 7) beat Parimarjan Negi (Ind, 6); Friso Nijboer (Ned, 6.5) drew with Dibyendu Barua (Ind, 6.5); Mikhail Klenburg (Ukr, 6) lost to Vyacheslav Ikonnikov (Rus, 7); Erwin L'Ami (Ned, 7) beat Viorel Iordachescu (Mda, 5.5); Mikhail Gurevich (Tur, 6.5) beat Thomas Henrichs (Ger, 5.5); Li Shilong (Chn, 6) drew with Koen Leenhouts (Ned, 6); Steffen Pedersen (Den, 6.5) beat Jan Smeets (Ned, 5.5); John Van der Wiel (Ned, 6.5) beat Arno Bezemer (Ned, 5.5); Konstantin Landa (Rus, 6) beat Herman Grooten (Ned, 5); Roktim Bandyopadhyay (Ind, 5) lost to Daniel Stellwagen (Ned, 6); Ziska Helgi Dam (Ned, 6) beat Jop Delemarre (Ned, 5); Dimitri Van Leent (Ned, 6) beat Wouter Spoelman (Ned, 5); Unai Garbisu (Esp, 6) beat Robin Swinkels (Ned, 5); Petra Schuurman (Ned, 5.5) drew with Saptarshi Roy (Ind, 5.5); Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (Ind, 5) drew with Mombiela Gonzalo (Esp, 5).