Chennai: The Indian challenge at the SDAT-RMK 4th Chennai Open International Grandmasters Chess Tournament here took a beating today with Grand Master S P Sethuramanand, International Master M R Venkatesh and C Praveen Kumar coming a cropper.
The only Indian to have restored some honour was IM Akshayraj Kore, who salvaged a draw against GM Aleksei Aleksandrov.
Adopting his favourite exchange variation of Queens Gambit against Kore, Aleksandrov saddled Black with an isolated pawn and exchanged off the major pieces hoping to win the pawn.
But Akshay rose to the occasion and created good piece play in a double minor piece managing to hold the top seed to a comfortable draw in 36 moves.
Venkatesh, meanwhile, lost to GM Kravtsiv of Ukraine from the Black side of a Sicilian Pelikan.
The other Indian casualty of the day was Sethuraman who went down from the Black side of a Sicilian Taimanov to GM Marat Dzhumaev.
Kumar in the mean time succumbed to Ma Qun to earn the Chinese his IM norm.
The limelight was though hogged by another Chinese Yu Ruiyuan, who gained the GM norm yesterday, as he he shot into the sole lead with 8.5 points at the end of the tenth and penultimate round.
Playing against country-mate Zeng Chongsheng, Yu had to content with advance variation against his Caro-Kann defence.
Both players displayed great skill and remarkable fighting spirit.
Zeng, who was playing with whites, offered a queenside pawn for good play on the center and kingside.
The higher rated Yu accepted the offer and two moves later, sacrificed his queen for a Rook and minor piece to stifle white`s counter play.
When Yu threatened to steamroll White with his queenside play, Zeng sacrificed further material to open Black king`s shelter.
Zeng threatened perpetual checks on the Black king, but Yu cleverly tucked away his king to the safety of his queenside pawns to pocket a full point in 51 moves and move into the sole lead.
The final round of the event will be played tomorrow and a bitter fight for the top honours is expected with the field still wide open.