Chennai: International master M Shyam Sundar of India retained his overnight position as the sole leader with a slender half-point lead after splitting points in his seventh round match of the Asian Junior Chess championship here on Monday.
Sundar was held to a draw by untitled Mehar Chinna Reddy and he ended the day with six points at the top. He is closely followed by IM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, FM S Nitin, Reddy and another untitled player Swayams Mishra, all from India, with 5.5 points each.
In the girl`s category, the top spot is shared by two foreign WFMs -- Vo Thi Kim Phung of Vietnam and Nakhbayeva Guliskhan of Kazakhstan, with six points each, followed by two Indians Defending Champion WIM Padmini Rout and R Preethi adrift by half a point.
On the top table, Sundar could not find any leeway against the Sicilian Classical defence offered by Reddy. With just a queen and a set of minor pieces exchanged, it seemed both players did not want to take risks and repeated the position thrice to split points in 28 moves.
Second seed IM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi displayed fine technique to overwhelm untitled Anwesh Upadhyaya. Vidit applied a positional squeeze typical of the Catalan opening to
Win two pawns after which it was just a matter of technique though the game lasted 77 moves.
FM S Nitin employed the Kings Indian defence to gain the upperhand against IM P Karthikeyan. Nitin won a pawn on the 31st move and slowly suppressed all the counter play of his more fancied opponent to score a fluent win in 56 moves.
While IMs N Srinath and M R Lalith Babu drew their mutual encounter in a Caro Kann opening in 59 moves, Swayams Mishra outplayed IM K Priyadarshan in a Queens Gambit game to move to the second spot.
In the girs category, the dream run of the Vietnamese Kim Phung, who was the sole leader in the last two rounds, was halted by WFM from Kazakhstan Nakhbayeva Guliskhan. Kim Phung employed the Nimzo Indian defence against the Queen Pawn opening of Nakhbayeva. Phung mixed up the move order to end up in a passive position and the Kazakh WFM quickly pounced on it to garner full points to emerge jointl leader.
Padmini Rout played a fluent attacking game against second seed Bhakti Kulkarni to win from the white side of a Caro Kann defence to move into the second spot with 5.5 points. Also joining in the second spot was R Preethi who scored a smooth win over young Michelle Catherina also of India.