Chennai: International Master Akshayraj Kore of India and Chinese Zeng Chongsheng defeated their respective rivals to share the lead along with overnight leaders Aleksei Aleksandrov and Yu Ruiyuan after nine rounds of the Chennai Open International Grandmasters Chess Tournament on Tuesday.
The quartet now share the top spot with 7.5 points each in the 11-round event.
Akshayraj scored a fluent victory over compatriot and Grandmaster Deepan Chakravarthy in a Slav game with white pieces, while Zeng Chongsheng defeated fellow Chinese Ma Qun in an irregular King pawn opening with black pieces.
Eight players follow the leaders with seven points each.
On the top table, top seed Aleksandrov, playing with white pieces, faced the Slav Defence offered by Mikhailo Oleksienko of Ukraine. In a hard fought game, both the players repeated moves twice in an equal position.
But Aleksandrov took his time and avoided the repetition announcing his intentions of playing for a win. He even won a pawn in a knight ending, but after a long battle spanning 60 moves, he was not able to make any progress and in the end the game ended in a draw.
On the second table, Indian Grandmaster S P Sethuraman also faced a Slav set-up offered by Chinese Yu Ruiyuan.
Sethuraman had the advantage of two bishops against a bishop and knight but with no pawn breaks possible, the Indian had to exchange one of his bishops.
At one stage, it looked like the Chinese star was poised to take the upper hand, when Sethuraman cleverly took the game into a Rook ending sacrificing one of his pawns.
As the famous maxim goes "all rook endings are drawn", Sethuraman held the position comfortably to settle for a draw.
However, Yu Ruiyan had something to rejoice as he completed the formalities of his first Grandmaster Norm from this event after the draw, while Maharashtra player Shashikant Kutwal achieved yet another International norm, his fourth one when he defeated veteran Indian Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua in a French game.