Top seeded Women Grandmaster D Harika suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of Jolanta Zawadzka of Poland in the 11th round of the World Junior girls chess championship in Yerevan, Armenia, on Sunday.
The loss came as a real blow to Harika's title hopes, as the Indian, who was in sole lead after the previous round, now shares the top spot with Zawadzka and Vera Nebolsina of Russia on 8.5 points out of a possible 11.
With just two rounds remaining, it is going to be a close call for the championship according to the pundits of the game. All the three leaders are a full point clear of the field and have played amongst themselves.
The player who wins the remaining two rounds will have the best winning chance and all three are capable of doing so.
In the boys' championship being held simultaneously, there were glorious uncertainties even as Ivan Popov of Russia emerged the sole leader with just two rounds remaining.
The Russian, with 8.5 points, was followed by Wang Hao of China, Georg Meier of Germany and Ahmed Adly of Egypt.
The Indian challenge for a medal in this section virtually came to an end as national junior champion Abhijeet Gupta misplayed a clearly superior position against Ahmed Adly.
Playing white, Abhijeet faced the Grunfeld defence and completely outplayed the Egyptian GM in the ensuing middle game. However, as the game progressed Abhijeet made a couple of errors and reached an equal endgame.
Interestingly, enough Adly offered Abhijeet a draw which was spurned down but the Indian eventually blundered in the rook and pawns endgame and lost.
Abhijeet is on 7 points after the debacle. Giving him company at the same score are his room mate G Rohit and the world's youngest GM Parimarjan Negi, who both scored fine victories over Armenian Hrant Melkumyan and So Wesley respectively.
Also ending winners were Deepan Chakkravarthy, Ashwin Jayaram and R Arun Karthik while Abhishek Das played out a draw in this round.
Amongst the Indian girls, P Priya had yet another memorable day defeating Anna Gasik of Hungary. Priya moved to 7.5 points and is the second placed Indian after Harika in the event.
Important and Indian Results round 11 (Indians unless specified):
Boys: Ivan Popov (Rus, 8.5) beat Avetik Grigoryan (Arm, 7.5); Wang Hao (Chn, 8) drew with Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 7.5); Abhijeet Gupta (7) lost to Ahmed Adly (Egy, 8); Viktor Laznicka (Cze, 6.5) lost to Georg Meier (Ger, 8); Daniel Stellwagen (Ned, 6.5) lost to Davit Jojua (Geo, 7.5); G Rohit (7) beat So Wesley (Phi, 6); G N Gopal (6.5) drew with Fidel Corrales (Cub, 6.5); Hrant Melkumyan (Arm, 6) lost to Parimarjan Negi (7); Deepan Chakkravarthy (6.5) beat Daan Brandenburg (Ned, 6); Yuri Hambardzumian (Arm, 5.5) lost to Ashwin Jayaram (6.5); Abhishek Das (4.5) drew with Thibaut Vandenbussche (Bel, 4.5); Issam Zemouli (Alg, 3.5) lost to R Arun Karthik (4.5).
Girls: Jolanta Zawadzka (Pol, 8.5) beat D Harika (8.5); Vera Nebolsina (Rus, 8.5) drew with Diana Arutyunova (Ukr, 7.5); Gulmira Dauletova (Kaz, 7) drew with Elena Tairova (Rus, 7.5); Mongontuul Bathuyag (Mgl, 7.5) beat Sopiko Guramishvili (Geo, 6.5); Melia Salome (Geo, 7.5) beat Sabrina Vega Gutierrez (Esp, 6.5); Anna Gasik (Hun, 6.5) lost to P Priya (7.5); Eesha Karavade (7) beat Sarah Hoolt (Ger, 6); Sona Pertlova (Cze, 7) beat Padmini Rout (6); Madona Bokuchava (Geo, 6.5) drew with Mary Ann Gomes (6); Soumya Swaminathan (6.5) beat Lia Martirosian (Arm, 5.5).