Dubai: Grandmaster and national champion Parimarjan Negi crashed through the defenses of Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway to regain the lead after the end of the eighth and penultimate round of Dubai International open chess tournament.
Former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta made sure that an Indian will win the title by outplaying highly regarded Grandmaster Sergey Volkov of Russia. While Parimarjan is on seven points out of a possible eight, Gupta inched closer and now occupies the second spot on 6.5 points.
As many as 11 players including top seed Krishnan Sasikiran are in contention for the top prices but the summit clash will be between two younger Indians in the $45000 prize money tournament.
Negi stole the show with his remarkable technique against Hammer.
Playing the Ruy Lopez it was an expected Berlin defense for the Delhi-based and things started to go well from him right from the word go.
Hammer made a positional error in the queen-less middle game that allowed Negi to liquidate the position on the king side and soon he had an extra pawn to back him. Hammer took his chances on the other flank by advancing his pawns in tandem but an alert Negi came up with an inspiring exchange sacrifice that sealed the fate of the Norwegian.
Abhijeet Gupta called the shots with white pieces in a Slav defense game against Volkov.
With precise manoeuvres, Abhijeet increased pressure on the queen side and forcibly won a pawn to reach a winning endgame. The rest was child`s play and Volkov was only hoping for a miracle that never happened.
Sasikiran was held to a draw by Kazhgaleyev and there is still chance for a podium finish if he can win his last round game.
The norm seekers were in for a surprise at the fag end of the event as both Shyam Sundar and M R Lalith Babu went down to higher ranked opponents. There chances will now depend on the opponents and positive results in the final round.