Woman Grandmaster Eesha Karavade continued her fine run and held the world's second-ranked woman Koneru Humpy to a draw in the fifth round of the ninth Dubai International Chess championship.
On what turned out to be a mediocre day for Indian norm seekers in the US $45,000 prize-money tournament, Eesha was quite lucky against Humpy, who missed some better continuations before forcing the truce at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.
The draw took both Eesha and Humpy to 3.5 points out of a possible 5 and the former now has an excellent chance of making her third and final International Master norm from this event.
Double GM norm holder S Kidambi had to pay dearly for his passive approach against Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan, who won an instructive endgame against the Indian.
Guseinov also remained in joint lead and now shares the helm with compatriot Tamaz Gelashvili on 4.5 points.
With four rounds still to come in the event as many as 12 players follow the leaders with 4 points each while the best placed Indians Eesha, Humpy, Kidambi, Women Grandmaster D Harika and IM P D S Girinath are in the next group of 3.5 pointers.
Eesha was lucky in more ways than one against Humpy who played quite uncharacteristically after getting an advantage. Playing the black side of an English defense, Humpy seized the initiative and was cruising fine with extra material in the middle game till disaster struck through a blunder.
Eesha not only managed to recover lost grounds thereafter but even got a semblance of an advantage before Humpy forced a draw in the endgame.
Kidambi was slowly outdone by Guseinov from a Queen pawn game. The Azerbaijani who played black first equalized comfortably and later strove for advantage after Kidambi went for an exchanging spree leaving his pawns a weakened on the queen side.
Guseinov had little to worry about once he got a passed pawn in the center and Kidambi slowly threw in the towel.
Grandmaster R B Ramesh also lost his game with white pieces against GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan of Iran who played Sicilian defense. Ramesh lost a pawn in the middle game and his efforts to put up a fight later yielded little as Maghami converted his extra material in to a full point.
Amongst other norm hunters M R Lalith Babu and B Adhiban tasted defeats at the hands of Adly Ahemd of Egypt and Alavi Sayed Javad of Iran while Aditya Udeshi did well to hold former World Women's champion Maia Chiburdanidze of Georgia.
Indian results round 5 (Indians unless specified):
Sundararajan Kidambi (3.5) lost to Gadir Guseinov (Aze, 4.5); R B Ramesh (3) lost to Ghaem Maghami Ehsan (Iri, 4); Eesha Karavade (3.5) drew with Koneru Humpy (3.5); M R Lalith Babu (3) lost to Adly Ahmed (Egy, 4); Alavi Sayed Javad (Iri, 4) beat B Adhiban (3); S Meenakshi (3) drew with Sarhan Guliev (Aze, 3); D Harika (3.5) beat Asghar Golizadeh (Iri, 2.5); Sergey Kayumov (Uzb, 3.5) beat Prasanna Rao (2.5); P D S Girinath (3.5) beat F Miragha (Iri, 2.5); Artashes Minasian (3) beat Narayanan Srinath (2); Maia Chiburdanidze (Geo, 2.5) drew with Aditya Udeshi (2.5); G N Gopal (3) beat Nyazi Nehad (Egy, 2); Tejas Bakre (3).