Doha: Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta missed out on his chances but still got an easy draw against fourth seeded Frenchman Maxime Vachier Lagrave in the fifth round of the Qatar International Open Chess Tournament now underway here.
Catching Lagrave in an unfamiliar territory, Gupta was not quite happy that he could not press for more against a member of the elite club and the game quickly fizzled out to a draw leaving the Indian on 3.5 points out of five rounds.
Top seed Anish Giri of Holland made himself hot favourite for the crown after he downed third seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan in another miniature.
After winning the previous round game with white pieces in a mere 18 moves against Mikhailo Oleksienko of Ukraine, Giri yet again turned up with his best and crushed Mamedyarov in just 21 moves with black pieces.
With five points from as many games, Giri is now followed solely by Nils Grandelius of Sweden who defeated another favourite Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine. Grandelius is on 4.5 points.
A pack of eight players, including former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia are on four points apiece trying to give the leaders a run for their money. Kramnik seems to have found his rhythm after draws in the first two games as he went about business-as-usual in his technical triumph over Andrey Vovk of Ukraine.
With four rounds still to come, Gupta and highest-rated Indian P Harikrishna are on 3.5 points each and still in with a chance to do sort of catch up in this strongest open tournament of the world. The Indians will clash with each other in the sixth round now.
Gupta knew it will be a Grunfeld and went about testing Vachier Lagrave in one of the popular variations. It was a different site to see Gupta go over thirty minutes on the clock as Vachier thought for a long time in the opening.
Knowing that he was caught in some deep preparation, the Frenchman took a risk and sacrificed a pawn to reach the rook and pawns endgame. Gupta needed copy-book technique to win such an endgame but for once he faltered and the game drifted towards a draw soon after. The peace was signed after 45 moves when no further improvement was possible for Gupta.
P Harikrishna was held to an easy draw by Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan. It was a Ruy Lopez wherein the Azeri took a risk-free approach and repeated the moves early to split the point in just 22 moves.
Young Aravindh Chithambaram got a good result at the expense of Polish Grandmaster Alexander Mista. Chithambaram inched closer to the 2500 rating mark with this victory -- a feat he needs to touch or cross to become the next Grandmaster of the country.
Among other important results involving Indians, B Adhiban continued with his comeback act after first two losses to register his third win on the trot. Adhiban defeated Aryan Tari of Norway.
International Master S Vijayalakshmi maintained her undefeated status drawing her fifth straight game against Grandmaster opposition. In the sixth round, Chinese Gao Rui had to share the point with the Indian lady.
Important and Indian results round 5 (Indians unless specified): Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3.5) lost to Anish Giri (Ned, 5); Nils Grandelius (Swe, 4.5) beat Pavel Eljanov (Ukr, 3.5); Yuriy Kryvoruchko (Ukr, 4) drew with Evgeny Tomashevsky (Rus, 4); Andrey Vovk (Ukr, 3) lost to Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 4); Abhijeet Gupta (3.5) drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 3.5); Eltaj Safarli (Aze, 3.5) drew with P Harikrishna (3.5); Bu Xiangzhi (Chn, 3) lost to Milos Perunovic (Cro, 4); Yu Yangyi (Chn, 4) beat Vasif Durarbayli (Aze, 3); Ding Liren (Chn, 3.5) beat Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2.5); Aleksandr Rakhmanov (Rus, 2.5) drew with Debashis Das (2.5); Aryan Tari (Nor, 2) lost to B Adhiban (3); Aleksander MIsta (Pol, 2) lost to Aravindh Chithambaram (3); Sandipan Chanda (2.5) drew with Shardul Gagare (2.5); Wen Yang (Chn, 2.5) drew with Rishi Sardana (2.5); M S Thejkumar (2.5) drew with Artur Jussupow (Ger, 2.5); Xu Yinglun (Chn, 2.5) drew with G N Gopal (2.5); Hovhannes Gabuzyan (Arm, 2.5) drew with P Konguvel (2.5); Gao Rui (Chn, 2.5) drew with S Vijayalakshmi (2.5); Zhansaya Abdumalik (Kaz, 3) beat Ankit Rajpara (3); Stelios Halkias (Gre, 2.5) beat Mary Ann Gomes (1.5); D Harika (2.5) beat Erik Hedman (1.5); Zeinab Mamedjarova (Aze, 1.5) lost to Neelotpal Das (2.5); S Kidambi (2.5) beat Nuri Kambez (1.5); Murali Karthikeyan (2) beat Julia Kochetkova (1); M Shyam Sundar (2) beat Gabriel Gaehwiler (Sui, 1); Salih Akar Ali Salih (1) lost to Sayantan Das (2).