Vaibhav Suri in sight of GM title

Moscow: Double GM norm holder Vaibhav Suri came within striking distance of his final Grandmaster norm after defeating Alexei Iljushin of Russia in `B` group of Aeroflot International open chess tournament.

Suri took his tally to 5.5 points out of a possible eight and a victory against A Grishchenko of Russia will fetch him the coveted Grandmaster title. The fact that the young Indian won with black and will have white pieces in the last game, is certainly a confidence booster and it will be a battle of nerves.

On what turned out to be another damper for the Indians in the `A` group, Krishnan Sasikiran was again held to a draw by Aleksandr Rakhmanov of Russia and Austrian Markus Ragger defeated S P Sethuraman. A little lower, Abhijeet Gupta spoilt a winning chance and drew with Adam Tukhaev of Ukraine while Parimarjan Negi could not break the ice and achieved the same result against Ghaem Maghami Ehsan of Iran.

Amongst other Indians in the fray, only G N Gopal posted a victory at the expense of compatriot M R Venkatesh, while Sandipan Chanda and Vidit Gujrathi succumbed against Andrey Zhigalko of Belarus and Ni Hua of China respectively. Gujrathi still has a chance for his final GM norm if he wins his final game.

Meanwhile Anton Korobov of Ukraine again joined the leading group, defeating Viorel Iordachescu of Moldova. Mateusz Bartel of Poland and Pavel Eljanov complete the lineup of a three-way lead at the top on six points. Abhijeet and Sasikiran are the best performing Indians on 4.5 points each.

The Indian hopes also suffered a setback in the `C` group as Gleb Apryshko of Russia beat National Junior Champion Aravindh Chithambaram in the ninth and final round. Sergey Gileb of Russia won this section along side Apryshko and Chithambaram had to be content with joint fifth spot after a splendid show in the first six rounds.

Finishing well here were K G Chaithanyaa and Akash Iyer who both tied for the fifth spot, scoring 6.5 points like Chithambaram in the end.