Harikrishna holds Motylev, retains sole lead

Wijk Aan Zee (The Netherlands): Grandmaster P Harikrishna held on to his own when it mattered the most and settled for a draw with Alexander Motylev of Russia in the 12th and penultimate round to retain his sole lead in the `B` group of Tata Steel chess tournament.

After a shocking 11th round defeat against Sipke Ernst of Holland, it was recovery time for the Indian who played with black pieces and Harikrishna did not falter in getting the minimum that he needed against Motylev.

The victory helped the Hyderabad-based Indian to remain on the sole lead on 8.5 points out of a possible 12. He is still half a point ahead of Motylev and Erwin L`Ami of Holland who both have eight points each.

With just one round to go, Harikrishna`s ticket to the winner`s purse depends on the outcome of the final round against Dmitry Reinderman of Holland but it looks like that a draw might just be enough.

Having been here many times, this is the first time that Harikrishna is in sight of the title with just a game to go, a victory here will also ensure his entry to the 2013 elite `A` group where Viswanathan Anand is also likely to play.

If he achieves what`s required with white pieces in the final round, Harikrishna will be the second Indian ever to take part in the prestigious `A` group.

Harikrishna`s Andhra state-mate D Harika, however, continued to suffer in this section as she lost again for the benefit of off-form Vladimir Potkin of Russia. Harika occupies the last spot on 3.5 points in this section.

The Indian challenge in the `C` group ended after B Adhiban spoiled a much better position and lost to second seed Maxim Turov of Russia. Turov and Hans Tikkanen of Holland remained in lead in this section with a massive score of 9.5 points each while Adhiban now shares the third spot, two points behind, along with Daan Brandenburg of Holland.

India`s Sahaj Grover and top seed Matthew Sadler of England are a distant fourth on 6.5 points while Tania Sachdev is another full point behind.

In the penultimate round, Sahaj was lucky to survive against lowly placed Pieter Hopman of Holland while Tania simply had an off-day and went down to another Dutchman Lars Ootes.

In the premier group `A`, Levon Aronian of Armenia defeated Boris Gelfand of Israel to surge ahead of the field once again. Aronian took his tally to 8.5 points and now enjoys a full point lead over world number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan. In the final round, Aronian meets Radjabov with white pieces.