Al Ain (UAE): Indian GM and former under-10 world champion Sahaj Grover scored a crushing victory over ninth seed Constantin Lupulescu of Romania to jump to joint fifth spot after the end of the sixth round of Al Ain Classic International Chess tournament, here on Wednesday.
On what turned out to be his day in one of the strongest open in Asia, Grover was at his attacking best and was rewarded for his uncompromising play as Lupulescu failed to find out the best defensive resources and caved in easily.
The victory took Grover to 4.5 points out of a possible six and the Indian youngster now finds himself in joint fifth spot. Defending champion Abhijeet Gupta, meanwhile bowed out of title contention after suffering a second straight loss in the tournament.
Gupta went down to compatriot S Arun Prasad again from a position, which was not worse and it was a blunder in the endgame that cost the former dearly. Meanwhile, Gaioz Nigalidze of Georgia continued with his surprise act and put it across Yuriy Kuzubov of Ukraine for his fifth victory in the tournament. Nigalidze took his tally to 5.5 points and continued at the top ahead of top seed Yuriy Kryvoruchko and Vladimir Onischuk of Ukraine and Sergei Zhigalko of Belarus.
With three rounds still to come in the 11000 USD first prize tournament, as many as 17players share the fifth spot with 4.5 points apiece. The Indian challenge in this point group is spearheaded by GM Vidit Gujrathi, who got the better of Sayantan Das in the sixth round in a one sided-affair.
GN Gopal, Deep Sengupta, Sandipan Chanda, S Arun Prasad and Grover are the other Indians on 4.5 points each and much would depend on the outcome in the next two games to figure out if a podium finish by an Indian is a possibility.
Gopal neutralised white's initiative to hold Samuel Shankland of United States to a draw while Sengupta achieved the same result against higher rated Mikhailo Oleksienko of Ukraine. Another Ukrainian, Alexander Kovchan held Sandipan Chanda to a draw in other important game involving Indians.
The day however belonged to Grover who played a chanceless game to beat Lupulescu. The Rossolimo Sicilian gave Grover a complicated middle game wherein he crved out a king side attack almost out of the blue. Lupulescu erred by not reading the attack correctly and was soon pushed to the wall in the middle game and Grover knocked down a rook for a Bishop to romp home easily.