Athens: Grandmaster-elect Sahaj Grover fought hard but had to settle for a draw with Yaroslav Zherebukh of Ukraine to bow out of medal contention in the World Junior Chess Championship after the 12th and penultimate round that concluded here.
A bronze medallist last time, 16-year-old Sahaj gave a good shot in the opening but fell wayward as the game progressed and in the end was lucky to escape with a half point that signaled the end of his medal aspirations.
It was Dutch defense and Grover sprang a surprise early to catch Zherebukh off-guard and the Ukrainian spent nearly 35 minutes on his six moves which guaranteed an opening success to the Indian.
However, as the game progressed Grover missed the thread of the position and he lost material for no compensation. Zherebukh, however, ran too short of time to make use of his advantage and slipped towards the end of first time control and the game was soon drawn.
At the top of the table, Richard Rapport of Hungary and Alexander Ipatov of Turkey remained in joint lead on 9.5 points following draws in contrasting fashion.
Rapport struggled in the initial stages but struck back in the end to equalise and finally sign peace with Samvel Ter-Sahakyan of Armenia while Ipatov looked slightly better before he too signed peace with Chinese talent Wei Yi.
With two leaders on 9.5 points, Ding Liren of China and Ter-Sahakyan remain within striking distance of the title a half point behind.
Chinese duo of Yu Yangyi and Wei Yi and Nils Grandelius
of Sweden are also in with a chance for a podium finish on 8.5 points provided they get a positive result in the final round. Grover remains the best performing Indian with eight points.
In the girls` championship being organised simultaneously, Guo Qi of China emerged as the sole leader after a day of upsets. The Chinese girl accounted for Jovana Vojinovic of Montenegro to go a half point clear of nearest contenders. This was possible after defending champion Deysi Cori of Peru suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Aulia Medina Warda of Indonesia.
Among Indians in the open section, Debashish Das succumbed to his third straight loss after making his maiden Grandmaster norm. Das went down to Salem A R Saleh of UAE.
Zhou Yang-Fan of Australia held P Shyam Nikil to a draw while Diptayan Ghosh drew with GM Tal Baron of Israel. M Shyam Sundar was lone winner among Indian boys at the expense of local hopeful Aggelis Nikolaos but Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus defeated Aravindh Chithambaram.
Anwesh Upadhyaya also ended on the losing side against Benjamin Arvola of Norway while Nishant Malhotra did well to hold Panagiotis Koutoukidis of Greece to a draw.
It turned out to be a decent outing for Indian girls as Bhakti Kulkarni played out a draw with Andrea Paula Rodriguez Rueda of Columbia while Ivana Maria Furtado and Pon N Krithika won against Ana Ivekovic of Croatia and beat Elise Forsa of Norway respectively.
Important and Indian Results in Round 12 Open (Indians
unless specified): Samvel Ter-Sahakyan (Arm, 9) drew with Richard Rapport (Hun, 9.5); Wei Yi (Chn, 8.5) drew with Alexander Ipatov (Tur, 9.5); Aleksandr Shimanov (Rus, 8) lost to Ding Liren (Chn, 9); Yu Yangyi (Chn, 8.5) drew with Nils Grandelius (Swe, 8.5); Sahaj Grover (8) drew with Yaroslav Zherebukh (Ukr, 8); Niclas Huschenbeth Niclas (Ger, 8) beat Grigoriy Oparin (Rus, 7.5); Robin Van Kampen (Ned, 8) beat Frode Urkedal (Nor, 7); Eric Hansen (Can, 8) beat Karen Grigoryan (Arm, 7); Andreas Heimann (Ger, 8) beat Vahe Baghdasaryan (Arm, 7); Callum Kilpatrick (Eng, 7) lost to Jorge Cori (Per, 8); Salem A R Saleh (Uae, 7.5) beat Debashis Das (6.5); Zhou Yang-Fan (Aus, 7) drew with P Shyam Nikil (7); Diptayan Ghosh (7) drew with Tal Baron (Isr, 7); Vladislav Kovalev (Blr, 7) beat Aravindh Chithambaram (6); Aggelis Nikolaos (Gre, 6) lost to M Shyam Sundar (7); Anwesh Upadhyaya (6) lost to Benjamin Arvola (Nor, 7); Panagiotis Koutoukidis (Gre, 5) drew with Nishant Malhotra (5.5).
Girls: Deysi Cori (Per, 8.5) lost to Aulia Medina Warda (Ina, 8.5); Anastasia Bodnaruk (Rus, 8.5) drew with Meri Arabidze (Geo, 8); Jovana Vojinovic (Mne, 7.5) lost to Guo Qi (Chn, 9); Abdulla Khayala (Aze, 8) drew with Nastassia Ziaziulkina (Blr, 8.5); Iulija Osmak (Ukr, 7) lost to Irina Bulmaga (Rou, 8.5); Monica Sihite Chelsie (Ina, 7.5) drew with Klara Varga (Hun, 7.5); Klaudia Kulon (Pol, 7.5) beat Aleksandra Goryachkina (Rus, 7); Bhakti Kulkarni (7) drew with Andrea Paula Rodriguez Rueda (Col, 7); Ivana Maria Furtado (6.5) beat Ana Ivekovic (Cro, 5.5); Pon N Krithika (5.5) beat Elise Forsa (Nor, 4.5).