Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran settled for an easy draw against Etienne Bacrot of France to maintain his second position after the fifth round of the Grandmaster section in the 37th Biel International Chess Festival in Biel, Switzerland.
On another board, GM Luke McShane of England opened his account with a victory over former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine. Mcshane ended his dismal performance in the event with a sweet, albeit lucky, win after four straight losses.
Half way through this category-18 double round-robin event among six players, defending champion and top seeded GM Alexander Morozevich of Russia carried forward his slender half point lead after settling for a draw with local star Yannick Pelletier.
The Russian has 3.5 points from first five games and is now followed by Sasikiran on 3 points. A half point adrift is Ponomariov and Bacrot while McShane still remains at the bottom of the table on 1 point.
It was time to change tactics for Sasikiran with black pieces. He opted for a solid Berlin defence in the Ruy Lopez against Bacrot. After early trade of Queens, the position remained level even as Bacrot had an optical advantage with his pieces looking better placed.
With his Bishop pair, Sasikiran, however, never had any troubles in securing the balance and the truce was signed in just 27 moves.
"We had a quiet game with neither willing to extend much. I was looking at the double bishop and rook ending, but Bacrot came up with timely exchange to get the equality. A draw before the rest day is an ok result," Sasikiran said after the game.
Having lost first four games McShane struggled in the early stages against Ponomariov who played the black side of a Sicilian Accelerated Sveshnikov.
Determined to win, Ponomariov found a clear plan to gain initiative with the premeditated opening but misplayed in the middle game.
McShane spotted a simple tactical shot on the 30th move and won the Queen for two pieces and even as the technicalities remained thereafter, the result was never in doubt. Making another Queen, McShane romped home in 43 moves.
"I am relieved to open the account, that too with a win over Ponomoriov," said a delighted McShane after the game.
For once in the event, Morozevich failed to impress with white, and Pelletier got a moral-booster drawing the world No. 4 with awesome ease. It was the Rubenstein variation of the French wherein exchange of pieces at regular intervals forced the Russian to sign peace in just 24 moves.
In the Master's section being played simultaneously, Asian Junior champion P Magesh Chandran remained in sight of his second GM norm after holding GM Michail Brodsky of Ukraine to a draw.
GM Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine joined overnight leaders Christian Bauer of France and Boris Avrukh of Israel in the lead with a fine victory against Russian GM Alexander Riazantsev. While all the leaders have 4.5 points in their kitty Magesh is on 3.5.
Amongst other Indians in the fray GM norm holder and former National Champion P Konguvel played out a theoretical draw with Bogdan Bozinovic of Croatia to move on 3 points. R R Vasudevan also played well to hold higher rated Giuseppe Valenti of Italy while Parimarjan Negi drew with Marco Gahler of Switzerland.
Important results round 5: Master's (Indians unless specified):
Christian Bauer (4.5, Fra) drew with Boris Avrukh (4.5, Isr); Alexander Riazantsev (3.5, Rus) lost to Pavel Eljanov (4.5, Ukr); Evgeny Alekseev (4, Rus) drew with Andrei Shariyazdanov (4, Rus); Alexander Rustemov (4, Rus) drew with Zahar Efimenko (4, Ukr); Mikhail Kobalia (3, Rus) Alexander Cherniaev (3, Rus); Michael Roiz (3, Isr) lost to Edward Porper (4, Isr); Vladimir Kosyrev (4, Rus) beat Cyril Marcelin (3, Fra); Michail Brodsky (3.5, Ukr) drew with P Magesh Chandran (3.5); Peter Wells (3, Eng) lost to Kritz Leonid (4, Ger); Andrei Lukin (4, Rus) beat Miso Cebalo (3, Cro); Papa Severin (4, Sui) beat Jenni Florian (3, Sui); Ivan Nemet (3.5, Sui) drew with Alexandra Kosteniuk (3.5, Rus); Bogdan Bozinovic (3, Cro) drew with P Konguvel (2.5); Giuseppe Valenti (2.5, Ita) drew with R R Vasudevan (2.5); Marco Gahler (2, Sui) drew with Parimarjan Negi (2).
The moves: Etienne Bacrot v/s K Sasikiran
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Bd7 10. Rd1 Kc8 11. Ng5 Be8 12. b3 b6 13. Bb2 Be7 14. Nge4 Kb7 15. Rd3 Rd8 16. Rad1 Kc8 17. Ne2 h5 18. g3 a5 19. c4 c5 20. N4c3 Rxd3 21. Rxd3 Bd7 22. Nd5 Bd8 23. Nef4 h4 24. g4 Nd4 25. Bxd4 cxd4 26. Rxd4 Bxg4 27. Ng6 draw agreed.