Chennai: FIDE Master S Nitin of India joined International Master M Shyam Sundar at the top of the table with 6.5 points at the end of the penultimate round of the Asian Junior Chess Championship on Tuesday.
The duo is followed by three more players,IMs Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, M R Lalith Babu and untitled Mehar Chinna Reddy, with six points each.
Nine players with 5.5 points are in third spot, including one foreign FM Pascua Haridas of Philippines. All of them are in with a chance to finish in the medal bracket depending upon their games on Wednesday.
In the Girls section, two overnight leaders WFMs Vo Thi Kim Phung of Vietnam and Nakhbayeva Guliskhan of Kazakhstan continue to lead the table with 6.5 points. They are followed by WFM Tay Li Jin Jeslin of Singapore, WIM Padmini Rout and R Preethi of India with six points.
In third spot are four Indians, Candidate Master Bhakti Kulkarni, WFM R Bharathi, WFM Cholleti Sahajasri and P V Nandhidhaa.
The Indian girls have to put in their best in the final round tomorrow for a podium finish, though as of now, at least one medal is sure to go in this category to a foreign player.
In the penultimate round on Tuesday, FM S Nitin played a controlled game to win in 42 moves against untitled Swayams Mishra of India. In a four Knights game, Nitin, playing White, gained space on the queenside as well as in the center.
Swayams Mishra countered with an offensive on the kingside and sacrificed an exchange in the process, relying on the strength of his two bishops against the bare king of Nitin. But Nitin consolidated his king position and also managed to exchange the queens. The rest was just a technique for white, and Nitin showed enough technique to garner a valuable point.
With this win, Nitin moves into the pole position and now can have a shot at the coveted title.
But in the summit clash, Nitin has to overcome erstwhile leader IM M Shyamsundar, who drew with IM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi in a Kings Indian game. The game looked as if both players were unwilling to take any chances. After 29 moves, they drew the game in a blocked position.
IM M R Lalith Babu put it across Darini Pouria of Iran in an English opening. Lalith combined his Rooks and Bishop very well to win an important pawn and secured a smooth win in 56 moves.