Negi crushes Socko to be joint leader in Leiden International

Leiden (The Netherlands): Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi rose to the occasion and put it across Bartosz Socko of Poland to jump to joint lead after the sixth round of the Leiden International chess tournament here.

After the lone rest day, the Asian champion Indian in the fray put in his best and Socko did not know what hit him right from the opening. This was Negi`s fourth victory in the tournament besides two draws that he conceded in round two and four.

Negi now shares the lead with David Howell of England and Evgeny Vorobiov of Russia on five points apiece. It`s an eight-way tie for the third spot currently including Indian Grandmasters M R Lalith Babu and S Arun Prasad.

Lalith Babu came good in defense after being pushed to the wall by Bosnian Grandmaster Predrag Nikolic while Arun Prasad cruised past local hope Peter Ypma. The other Indian in the fray -- S Kidambi -- got a walk over in this round to move to four points.

Negi played one of the best games in the tournament so far. Playing the black side of his pet Grunfeld defense, the Indian did not shy away for complications arising after an early exchange sacrifice and was duly rewarded for his efforts.

Socko missed the thread of the position in the endgame when Negi parted with a piece for three pawns. Soon after the central pawns rolled paralysing white pieces completely.

Socko might have had a better defense but the pressure got to him as he walked in to a picturesque finale wherein Negi`s two passed pawns had the final say. The game lasted 46 moves.

Lalith Babu felt the heat in the middle game as white in a Slav defense employed by Nikolic. The opening featured routine manoeuvres but Nikolic seized the initiative with some energetic play on the queen side and eventually won a pawn without compensation.

The technicalities however remained and Lalith Babu found a nice way to maintain the balance and the peace was signed in 59 moves.

Arun Prasad went for the Sicilian Najdorf and won a rook for a minor piece in the complexities of the middle game against Peter Ypma.

The Dutchman tried to make a foray on the queen side but Prasad got his own passed pawn in the centre. It took 54 moves, but the Indian was in control in the final stages of the game.

In the next round now, Negi will meet Vorobiov while Lalith Babu has a tough nut to crack in Howell. Arun can make a big comeback if he wins his game against Michal Luch of Poland.