Abu Dhabi: Indian Grandmasters Vidit Gujrathi and G N Gopal emerged as joint leaders after winning their penultimate round games in the Abu Dhabi Masters chess tournament now drawing to a close here.
Gujrathi ended the dream run of Murali Karthikeyan who will still make his third and final Grandmasters norm irrespective of the final round result. 15-year-old Karthikeyan is set to become the next Grandmaster of the country. Gujrathi and Gopal have 6.5 points each.
This has, in fact, been a highly productive month for Indian chess as just a few days back Aravindh Chithambaram also qualified to become a Grandmaster while participating in a tournament in Riga, Latvia and the Indian men won a historic Bronze medal in the Chess Olympiad.
While Gujrathi was on a roll against Karthikeyan, Gopal caused a huge upset defeating top seed Wang Hao of China. The miseries for the Chinese continued after a brief comeback in the tournament as he was outplayed by the Indian. With just one round to go, as many as six players trail the two leaders on six points apiece. They are, Russians Sergey Volkov and Vladimir Burmakin, Ukrainians Zahar Efimenko and Yuriy Kuzubov, Armenian Tigran Petrosian and Karthikeyan.
Both Gopal and Gujrathi have earlier met in the tournament and are in the final round now, they will be pitted against Kuzubov and Petrosian respectively. Among other Indians in fray, only M Shyam Sundar is in with a chance to find himself among the top finishers. In his eighth-round game, Shyam Sundar defeated Sahaj Grover to take his tally up to 5.5 points and now shares the ninth spot. It was another mixed day for the Indian participants with Abhijeet Gupta finding his form back at the expense of Tamas Meszarov of Hungary. Surya Shekhar Ganguly drew with Amin Baseem of Egypt while Vaibhav Suria lost to Burmakin.