Thirteen-year-old Murali Karthikeyan scored his maiden Grandmaster norm after securing a draw with Commonwealth champion M R Lalith Babu in the ninth and penultimate round of the premier section of Parsvnath International chess tournament in New Delhi.
International Master K Rathnakaran also joined the party by making his second Grandmaster norm defeating top seed Abhijeet Gupta.
At the top of the table Grandmaster Aleksej Aleksandrov of Belarus pulled himself closer to winning the tournament at the expense of Marat Dzhumaev of Uzbekistan.
With just one round to go, Aleksandrov is sitting pretty in the tournament on 7.5 points from nine games enjoying a half point lead over nearest contender Henrik Teske of Germany.
Five players -- Kiril Kuderinov of Kazakhstan, Vaibhav Suri, P Magesh Chandran, Rathnakaran and Dzhumaev share the third spot with 6.5 points apiece in the Rs. 1.1 million prize money tournament. After a lucky victory against Grandmaster Sahaj Grover in the previous round, it turned out to be another good day for Teske as he simply outclassed Jahongir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan.
Amongst other top games, Suri played out a hard-fought draw with Kuderinov while Magesh Chandran scored a fine technical victory over Czebe Attila of Hungary.
The hero of the day however was former under-12 World champion Murali Karthikeyan who played another nerve-wracking game in the tournament.
The Chennai-based youngster lost a pawn in the endgame but fought on well to force parity against Lalith Babu. The achievement makes Murali the youngest Grandmaster norm holder in the country currently.
Apart from two Grandmaster norms, Rakesh Kulkarni made an International Master norm while Wang Doudou of China made her International Women Master norm.
The final round will be played on Sunday.