Grandmaster and Asian champion Parimarjan Negi scored a clinical victory over Frank Erwich of Holland to jump to joint second spot after the end of the fifth round of the 6th Leiden International chess tournament.
Having drawn the previous game against local International Master Jan-Willem De Jong, Negi knew he had to score in this round and the way it came bodes well for the Indian star who, off late, is known to make heavy progress in the second half of the tournaments after a slow start.
On what turned out to be a mixed day for Indians, Grandmaster S Arun Prasad went down fighting against Bartosz Socko of Poland on the top board while GM S Kidambi suffered a shocking loss at the hands of Etienne Goodriaan of Holland.
On the brighter side, M R Lalith Babu recorded his fourth victory on the trot to join Negi on four points defeating Polish Lukasz Butkiewicz.
With four rounds still to come after the lone rest day in the tournament, Socko emerged as the sole leader on 4.5 points and he now meets Negi in the next round. A pack of nine players including David Howell of England follow the leader on four points each making it a wide open tournament past the half-way stage.
In his own words, Negi has started playing 'more solidly'. The fact was evident in the game against Erwich who did not get any chance despite being close to level after the opening unfolded.
The Berlin defense by the Dutchman did not get the desired result as Negi decided to play a closed Ruy Lopez keeping more pieces on the board.
The middle game was typical of such openings as Negi made progress on the queen side and slowly got a tangible advantage by controlling more space. Erwich ran out of ideas once Negi got a passed pawn on the queen's wing and called it a day on move 42.