International Master S Satyapragyan outplayed Himanshu Sharma but remained at considerable distance from earning his maiden Grandmaster-norm after the eighth round of the Parsvnath International Open chess championships in Delhi on Friday.
Satyapragyan defeated Himanshu, another GM-norm contender, with black pieces in 45 moves which gave him good enough performance points required for the norm two rounds in advance but that he did not play enough number of titled players has kept his norm in abeyance.
Whether he makes it in the remaining two rounds remains to be seen.
Giant-killer Himanshu, who has already defeated two foreign Grandmasters, can complete his norm if he beats GM Sandipan Chanda. Should he lose or draw that game, he will still have one more round to try and get the norm.
Meanwhile, top seed Alexei Fedorov of Belarus defeated International Master Sriram Jha to maintain his half point lead, with a tally of 7.5 points, over Satyapragyan and Grandmaster Pavel Kotsur of Kazakhstan.
A group of five players -- Saptarshi Roy, second seed Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Ziaur Rahman, P Konguvel, M R Venkatesh were trailing with 6.5 points at third place.
In the Ruy Lopez game, Jha first had slight advantage but he let it go when he opted to play a passive game by playing his knight to 'f6' than 'f5'.
Later, Jha sacrificed a piece for two pawns and Fedorov gave one more pawn to the Delhiite which weakened his white squares leading to a lost game for the IM in 51 moves.
With only two rounds to go in the 10-round tournament, it was a productive day for the norm-seekers who came in striking distance of completing the formalities for their respective norms.
Saptarshi Roy earned his second IM-norm after drawing with IM Abdullah Al-Rakib of Bangladesh and even a lost game tomorrow would not hamper his chances.
The Kolkata player offered a draw to his opponent before the game began which the Bangladeshi refused.
Parimarjan Negi today drew with black pieces against GM Ziaz Murshed of Bangladesh and needs only a win tomorrow to secure his second GM-norm in the successive tournaments.
Negi played the Grunfeld Defence and despite being in a better position, fumbled in the endgame as he could not manoeuvre his rooks and was prevented from making any bold moves. The game lasted 25 moves.
Another youngster, Asian under-12 silver medallist Padmini Raut was also in the running to complete her maiden Women International Master norm.