Top seed Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran celebrated his birthday in style beating overnight joint leader International Master R R Laxman to take sole lead after seven rounds in the Parsvanath International Chess Open tournament in New Delhi on Friday.
IMs S Satyapragyan, Deep Sengupta and Enamul Hossain of Bangladesh with six points, half a point behind Sasi, share the second spot with Kunte in this 11-round tournament played in the Swiss format at the Bapu Samaj Seva Kendra.
Former title holder R B Ramesh, Dibyendu Barua and Alexander Fominyh of Uzbekistan also registered convincing wins with white pieces against their lower-ranked opponents.
Sasikiran, the highest-rated opponent ever played by Laxman, employed the Nimzo Indian opening against the national blitz champion who was looking for a draw.
He sacrificed his knight in the middle game but Sasikiran lured him with a pawn and caught Laxman on the wrong foot in the king-pawn endgame to win in 66 moves.
The top board game saw Sasi give Laxman a couple of chances but Laxman's inexperience in international tournaments costed him dearly. He was also awestruck by his star opponent.
On the second board, Kunte played tough in a game that lasted 54 moves with the Grunfeld opening. His earlier two drawn matches lasted only 12 and 10 moves, respectively.
Barua beat upcoming youngster Mary Ann Gomes with a Sicilian Najdorf opening. Despite her defeat, Mary impressed with her opening moves and middle game that put her on par.
But after she sacrificed her queen rook she lost control and it was all over for the youngster in 43 moves.
N Sanjay, who is eyeing an IM norm drew IM Anton Filippov of Uzbekistan, in a Queen's Gambit Exchange variation in 72 moves. Sanjay held a slight edge being a pawn up but was caught in a complex end game before agreeing to take the draw.
Satyapragyan beat Mehdi Hasan of Bangladesh in a short game that lasted only 19 moves in the Sicilian Polson variation. Ramesh played the Pirc defence against IM Varughese Koshy and won in 26 moves.
Deep Sengupta beat Preetam Sharma while Fominyh beat unheralded Arvind Shastry in 64 moves in a Queens Gambit Accepted.
Results - Round 7: R R Laxman (5.5) lost to K Sasikiran (6.5), Abhijit Kunte (6) beat D V Prasad (5), N Sanjay (5.5) drew with Anton Filippov (Uzb) (5.5), Dmitry Kayumov (Uzb)(5.5) drew with M B Muralidharan (5.5), Enamul Hossain (Ban)(6) beat Holmirzaev Bahodir (Uzb)(5), R Preetham Sharma (5) lost to Deep Sengupta (6), S Satyapragyan (6) beat Mehdi Hasan (Ban)(5), Alexander Fominyh (Uzb)(5.5) beat Aravinda Shastry (4.5), R B Ramesh (5.5) beat V Koshy (4.5), B S Sivanandan (5) drew with V Saravanan (5), Anup Deshmukh (4.5) lost to Saptarshi Roy (5.5), J S Gokhale (5) drew with Sergei Kayumov (Uzb)(5), K Visweswaran (5) drew with Prathamesh S Mokal (5), Himanshu Sharma (5.5) beat Ranveer Singh Bhatti (4.5), R Balasubramaniam (5) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (5).