New Delhi: It turned out to be a fruitful day for the Indians at the AAI Grandmasters Chess tournament on Thursday as Krishnan Sasikiran got back to winning ways to be placed at second spot while Parimarjan Negi managed to put a full stop to his run of losses.
Sasikiran after registering draws in previous two games, took just 30 moves following a Queen`s Indian opening for a full point against Czech Viktor Laznicka in the eighth round on Thursday.
Negi, meanwhile, completed a comprehensive 27-move win over Wesley So of the Philippines.
In the third game of the day, Fabiano Caruana beat Hou Yifan to extend his lead to 1.5 points with two rounds to go.
Caruana, who continues to be the only unbeaten player in the tournament, scored his fifth win. With 6.5 points he is 1.5 points ahead of the second place Sasikiran, who has five points.
Wesley So and Viktor Laznicka have four points each, Negi has 2.5 and Yifan two.
"It was not really that easy because I took some risks today," said Sasikiran.
"At one point I offered a sacrifice which he need not have taken then but he did and it became a bit easier. Maybe the Kh1 (on 23rd move) from him was the mistake that helped me get to the win faster," he added.
On his recent run with four wins and two draws in the last six rounds after starting with two losses, Sasikiran said, "Maybe the weather cooling down also helped me. I like playing in slightly cooler weather. There is two more games to go. As such before the tournament I was hoping to get to either plus three or plus four and I am right now plus two."
The 17-year-old Indian national champion Negi approached the round rather cautiously but was surprised to see his rival Wesley play the Petroff defence, something he had played only once before against a noted opponent, Alexei Shirov, last year.
"It was a big surprise to see him use the Petroff, maybe he just wanted to play solid and also surprise. I thought I wouldn`t take any chances," said Negi.
But it was Wesley So who made the big error when he played Be7 on the 18th move and from there on the game turned decisively in Negi`s favour. Thereafter it was only a matter of time before Negi won.
It was by far the quickest game in terms of moves and took less than three hours.
Asked is the nightmarish part of the week is over, Negi said, "I don`t know whether the nightmare is over as there are two more rounds to go, but this win was certainly welcome. There is always some pressure when you play a tournament, but I feel I have not been able to convert my chances. If you notice I have had my chances in many games, but was not able to use that."
Both Negi and Sasikiran are due to play Asian Team Chess in China next month, followed by the World Cup in Russia.
Points after eight rounds: Caruana (6.5 pts), Sasikiran (5 pts), Wesley So (4 pts), Laznicka (4 pts), Negi (2.5 pts) and Yifan (2 pts).
Results of eighth round: F Caruana beat H Yifan; Negi P beat W So; K Sasikiran beat V Laznicka.
Draw for ninth round: V Laznicka v F Caruana; K Sasikiran v Negi P; W So v H Yifan.