Abu Dhabi: Young International Master Murlai Karthikeyan made a decisive stride forward towards his GM title defeating Yuriy Kuzubov of Ukraine in the sixth round of Abu Dhabi Masters chess tournament now in progress here.
Playing the tournament of his life, Karthikeyan took his tally to a remarkable five points out of a possible six and his rating performance stands at a whopping 2783 ELO points in the tournament. Ordinarily, just one or two draws should be enough to seal the GM norm for the young lad.
Karthikeyan shares the lead with Sergey Volkov of Russia and the two are slated to clash in the seventh round of this 9-round Swiss system tournament.
With just three rounds to come, Vidit Gujrathi and G N Gopal are the other Indians in with a chance for a podium finish sharing the third spot on 4.5 points with five others.
While Gujrathi and Gopal played out a draw amongst themselves, highest rated Indian in the fray, Abhijeet Gupta was unlucky not to convert an advantageous endgame against Marcea-Emilian Parligras of Romania. Gupta inched himself up to four points following the drawn result and shares the tenth spot now.
Karthikeyan scored his third victory on the trot against Grandmasters displaying some deep tactical sense. Kuzubov did not know what hit him when an apparently harmless-look Bishop manoeuvre started the onslaught out of a Sicilian Dragon defense game.
Playing white, Karthikeyan also temporarily put his queen en prise to win a pawn and then kept improving his position by a knight sortie that won him a rook for a minor piece. The rest was easy and it was all over in 50 moves.
Karthikeyan`s victory in round six came after his triumph against Alexander Areshchenko of Ukraine and Amin Baseem of Egypt in the last two rounds which made it three on three against over 2600 ELO rated opposition.
Among other Indians in the fray, Sahaj Grover went down rather tamely to Andrei Istratescu of France out of a Ruy Lopez game where the latter played white. Also ending on the losing side was Surya Shekhar Ganguly bowing to Barnaure Vlad-Victor of Romania.
Vaibhav Suri and GM MR Lalith Babu improved their tournament situation with victories over Tamas Meszaros of Hungary and Atousa Pourkashiyan of Iran respectively. Both Suri and Babu are now on four points.