Sasikiran, Gopal in joint lead

Gibraltar: Grandmasters Krishnan Sasikiran and G N Gopal joined the leading group after winning the fourth round of the Tradewise Gibraltar chess congress here.

The victories for the Indian duo came through sheer hard work as Sasikiran was lucky to pull through against Anna Muzychuk of Slovenia, while Gopal defeated much higher ranked Parligras Mircea-Emilian of Romania.

The draws at the top boards witnessed evaporation of a half point from the tournament as none reached the magical 4/4 start.

As things stand as many as 11 players share the lead on 3.5 points and prominent among them are English duo of Nigel Short and Michael Adams, Viktor Laznicka of Czech Republic and women`s world champion 17-year-old Yifan Hou of China.

With six rounds still to come, Parimarjan Negi shares the joint 12th spot on three points and his Indian company in this point group is Koneru Humpy, who yet again came up with a solid performance and drew against world`s top ranked woman ever -- Judit Polgar of Hungary.

Negi won against Natalia Zhukova of Ukraine and the game might be a candidate for the brilliancy prize at the end of the tournament.

Grandmaster and national champion Abhijeet Gupta`s path to recovery was again obstructed as he was held to a draw by young Israeli Danny Raznikov. The draw could only take Abhijeet to 2.5 points with a lot of catching up to do in the remaining rounds of this over-100000 Pound Sterling tournament.

Amongst other Indians in the fray, Sohan Phadke reached two points following a victory over Dirk Boesch of Germany, while Soumya Swaminathan and Rakesh Kulkarni reached 1.5 points after settling for draws with De Seroux Camille of Switzerland and David Jameson of Wales, respectively.

Sasikiran was plain lucky to survive against Muzychuk from a Sicilian defense game that gave the look of a Ruy Lopez as the Slovenian swiftly changed gears.

Sasikiran misplayed the middle game and his kingside came under heavy attack but Muzychuk returned the favour by blundering a piece for nothing. Soon it was all over.

Gopal gave a fine endgame display to beat Parligras. Starting with a Slav Gopal too was under initial pressure but was not completely lost. Parligras entered this rook endgame with slightly worse chances and Gopal was quick to evaluate the position to his advantage. It was perfect calculation in the end that gave the Indian full point.

Parimarjan Negi faced a French defense from Zhukova and sacrificed two pieces in the middle game to initiate a king side attack. Zhukova tried but the defense was quite difficult. The white forces prevailed pretty quickly making it one of the best games of the day.

Important and Indian results:

Round 4 (Indians unless specified): Yifan Hou (Chn, 3.5) drew with Michael Adams (Eng, 3.5); Sabino Brunello (Ita, 3.5) drew with Nigel Short (Eng, 3.5); Le Quang Liem (Vie, 3.5) beat Ruben Felgaer (Arg, 3); Judit Polgar (Hun, 3) drew with Koneru Humpy (3); David Alberto (Lux, 3) drew with Alexei Shirov (Esp, 3); Viktor Laznicka (Cze, 3.5) beat Kaido Kulaots (Est, 2.5); Sergei Movsesian (Arm, 3.5) beat Artur Jussupow (Ger, 2.5); Anna Muzychuk (Slo, 2.5) lost to Krishnan Sasikiran (3.5); Parligras Mircea-Emilian (Rou, 2.5) lost to G N Gopal (3.5); Richard Rapport (Hun, 3.5) beat Jan Gustafsson (Ger, 2.5); Alexander Fier (Bra, 2.5) lost to Nana Dzagnidze (Geo, 3.5); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3) beat Anna Zatonskih (Usa, 2.5); Danny Raznikov (Isr, 2.5) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (2.5); Parimarjan Negi (3) beat Natalia Zhukova (Ukr); Dirk Boesch (Ger, 1.5) lost to Sohan Phadke (2); Soumya Swaminathan (1.5) drew with De Seroux Camille (Sui, 2); David Jameson (Wls, 2) drew with Rakesh Kulkarni (1.5).