Dubai: Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi slipped to the joint third spot after settling for an easy draw with GM Viorel Iordachescu of Moldova in the seventh round of the 12th Dubai Open International chess tournament.
Negi, who was in joint lead a couple of rounds earlier, was never in any kind of trouble against Iordachescu who just played it safe with white pieces.
Grandmaster Tornike Sanikidze of Georgia joined Iordachescu in lead on six points after defeating Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan in a keenly contested game.
The third place is shared by Sergey Volkov of Russia, Vladimir Baklan of Ukraine, Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia, Eduardo Itturizaga of Venezuela, Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan and Negi who all have 5.5 points each.
A wolf-pack of 17-players including three Indians ? 2008 world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta, International Master M R Lalith Babu and Ramnath Bhuvanesh ? are also in contention for top honours having five points apiece with two rounds still to come in this USD 45,000 prize money tournament.
Negi played the Sicilian defense with black pieces and was pleasantly surprised to face a harmless set up from Iordachescu. The pieces got exchanged at regular intervals and it was a minor piece endgame on board when the players decided to split the point on move 30.
Abhijeet Gupta bounced back in contention at the expense of fellow Indian IM M Shyam Sundar. It was a Berlin defense game wherein Abhijeet showcased his superior endgame skills to simply outplay Sundar.
M R Lalith Babu won an easy game with white pieces against Abhishek Kelkar while Ramnath Bhuvanesh struck form to beat UAE`s grandmaster Salem A R Saleh.
Amongst the Indian girls, former world junior girls champion D Harika played out a hard fought draw with GM Tigran Petrosian of Armenia while Eesha Karavade proved equal to GM Savchenko Stanislav of Ukraine. S Meenakshi improved her chances in the event following a victory over Iran`s Ghader Pour Shyesteh.
Giant killer Tejas Ravichandran put an end to his losses after playing out a draw with P I Johny. Tejas still has International Master norm chances but for that he will have to play well in the last two rounds.