Former World Junior champion Pendyala Harikrishna played out another easy draw with Wang Yue of China to maintain a slender half point lead after the fifth round in the Marx Gyorgy Memorial international chess tournament in Paks, Hungary.
Signing his second peace pact on the trot in the event, Harikrishna moved to 3.5 points and remained a half point adrift of nearest rivals -- defending champion Zoltan Almasi of Hungary and Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine after all matches ended in draw.
At half-way stage of this category-15 double round-robin tournament, the fourth spot is held by Chinese Grandmaster Wang Yue, who is on 2.5 points, while Ferenc Berkes of Hungary is next on two points.
Peter Acs of Hungary, who also achieved his second draw in the event with Berkes, was still in the cellar on just one point.
In the second half of the event, commencing after a rest day, Harikrishna will have three white games apart from two as black and the Indian can really look forward to a big victory.
The main rival for Harikrishna in rounds to come is likely to be Almasi, who won this event last year, finishing ahead of Indian stalwart Krishnan Sasikiran.
Harikrishna had little to do against Wang Yue. Having already scored two victories in the first four games itself, the Indian took it easy and Wang Yue was not really interested in pressing with his white pieces.
Playing the Nimzo Indian defense as black, Harikrishna faced the Fianchetto system and got the balance ticking soon after the opening.
The game ended rather abruptly when Yue proposed a draw after just 15 moves and Harikrishna accepted. By this time only a one set of minor pieces and pawns had changed hands and apparently there was a lot to play for, for both sides.
Like Wang Yue, Efimenko also could not use his white pieces effectively against Almasi, who restored his faith in the Berlin defense as black for the second time running in the event after taking a beating at the hands of Harikrishna in the third round.
Efimenko opted for a different opening plan to tackle the opening and Almasi obviously was better prepared this time.
The exchanges took place at regular intervals and the players arrived at a minor pieces endgame in quick time. The game lasted 32 moves.
The longest game of the day was fought out between Berkes and Acs but that also ended in a draw. It was a Slav defense by Acs who played black and even though Berkes found some favourable breakthroughs Acs always had sufficient play to back himself despite losing a pawn. The peace was signed after 43 moves.
Results round 5: Zahar Efimenko (Ukr, 3) drew with Zoltan Almasi (Hun, 3); Wang Yue (Chn, 2.5) drew with P Harikrishna (Ind, 3.5); Ferenc Berkes (Hun, 2) drew with Peter Acs (Hun, 1).
Standings after Round 5: 1. Harikrishna 3.5; 2-3. Efimenko, Almasi 3 each; 4. Wang Yue 2.5; 5. Berkes 2; 6. Acs 1.
Wang Yue v/s P Harikrishna
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 c5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Ne4 7. Bd2 Nxd2 8. Qxd2 cxd4 9. Nxd4 Ne5 10. Nc2 Be7 11. b3 O-O 12. O-O a6 13. Rfd1 Qc7 14. Rac1 d6 15. Nd4 draw agreed.