Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran got the better of Richard Rapport of Hungary to jump to joint second spot after the end of the ninth and penultimate round of Tradewise Gibraltar chess festival in Gibraltar.
Sasikiran kept himself in the hunt for the title after defeating Rapport and the Indian will next take on Nigel Short of England [ Images ].
To clinch the title, Sasikiran will have to beat Short, who is finding good form after an abysmal show at the last London [ Images ] Chess Classics.
Meanwhile, world women's champion Yifan Hou shot in to sole lead following a demolition of Alexei Shirov of Spain.
The 17-year-old Chinese wonder-girl took her tally to 7.5 points with another scalp of a big gun and is now just half a point adrift to nearest rivals with one more round to go in one of the strongest opens of the world.
On a day that saw Parimarjan Negi showing another piece of excellent preparation by holding the World Cup winner Peter Svidler of Russia [ Images ] to an easy draw, G N Gopal fell out of contention after bowing to Viktor Bologan of Moldova.
On the flip side, Koneru Humpy's chances of a podium finish amongst the women participants suffered a setback as she was held to a draw by former women's world champion Zhu Chen of Qatar.
The other Indian girl in the fray -- Soumya Swaminathan however did well to beat Nino Khurtsidze of Georgia. Both Humpy and Soumya have 5.5 points apiece.
Amongst other Indians, Abhijeet Gupta worked hard to beat Lela Javakhishvili of Georgia, while Rakesh Kulkarni got the better of German Amos Frank.
Sohan Phadke, however was on the receiving end against Milos Pavlovic of Serbia.
Sasikiran showed the way with black pieces as Rapport came hunting with guns blazing. The second highest rated Indian was however not perturbed and slowly worked his way for counter play and once Rapport went berserk in trying to make things work in his favour, it was all over in quick time.
Negi was in control in a popular Grunfeld variation as black and Svidler spent a lot of time on the clock in early stages. The Russian was quick to realise that playing for an advantage was futile and decided to repeat moves and shared the point.
Important & Indian results, Round 9 (Indians unless specified): Zoltan Almasi (Hun, 6.5) drew with Michael Adams (Eng, 7); Alexei Shirov (Esp, 6) lost to Yifan Hou (Chn, 7.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 6.5) drew with Parimarjan Negi (6.5); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 7) veat Varuzhan Akobian (Usa, 6); David Howell (Eng, 6.5) drew with Sergei Movsesian (Arm, 6.5); Richard Rapport (Hun, 6) lost to K Sasikiran (7); G N Gopal (6) lost to Viktor Bologan (Mda, 7); Salem A R Saleh (Uae, 6) lost to Nigel Short (Eng, 7); Le Quang Liem (Vie, 6.5) beat Anna Muzychuk (Slo, 5.5); Emil Sutovsky (Isr, 6.5) beat Tamir Nabaty (Isr, 5.5); Jan Gustafsson (Ger, 6.5) beat Stefan Kuipers (Ned, 5.5); Koneru Humpy (5.5) drew with Zhu Chen (Chn, 5.5); Abhijeet Gupta (6) beat Lela Javakhishvili (Geo, 5); Nino Khurtsidze (Geo, 4.5) lost to Soumya Swaminathan (5.5); Rakesh Kulkarni (5) beat Amos Frank (Ger, 4); Sohan Phadke (4.5) lost to Milos Pavlovic (Srb, 5.5).