Gibraltar: Grandmaster M R Lalith Babu caused a major upset by defeating defending champion Ivan Cheparinov of Bulgaria in the third round of the Masters section of Tradewise Gibraltar Chess tournament here on Friday.
With his third victory in as many games, Lalith Babu remained in joint lead and the victory against Cheparinov served as a confidence booster for the Indian who has been struggling for some time.
It was a Semi Slav defense in which Lalith Babu allowed level play to Heparinov who played black. The middle game was on even keel too when after the trade of queens Cheparinov thought he had a chance and miscalculated in the endgame.
Lalith Babu picked up two pawns in the process and then calculated precisely to romp home in 49 moves.
With seven rounds still to come in the 175000 Pounds Sterling Festival, there as many as 13 players sharing the lead and three Indians among them.
Apart from Babu, highest rated Indian P Harikrishna and B Adhiban maintained a clean slate at the expense of Ioan-Cristian Chirila of Romania and Alexander Donchenko of Germany.
There are as many as three Chinese players also in the lead. Women's world champion Yifan Hou made short work of Al-Sayed Mohamed of Qatar while Wenjun Ju caused an upset defeating Richard Rapport of Hungary. The other Chinese in lead is 15-year old GM Wei Yi who became the youngest ever to cross the 2700 ELO rating mark in the live rating list.
Meanwhile, second seed Hikaru Nakamura of United States had to work hard but in the end prevailed over Tamir Nabaty of Israel. Nakamura is the only elite player apart from Harikrishna to maintain an all-win record after three rounds.
Harikrishna, meanwhile, played the game of the day to beat Ioan-Cristian Chirila. The Berlin defense by the Romanian was spurned and Harikrishna took advantage of an opening error to launch a king side attack after sacrificing a pawn. It was sheer class that prevailed thereafter as Harikrishna gave up a rook for a minor piece en-route to securing a fine victory.
Adhiban defeated Donchenko in just 28 moves out of an English opening. Playing white the Indian dented black's pawn structure on the king side and then picked up a pawn with his technical skills to force an early resignation.
Among other Indians in the fray, Vishnu Prasanna continued with his fine run on the tournament and held Daniel Naroditsky of United States to a draw while the all-Indian duel between M R Venkatesh and Surya Shekhar Ganguly also reached the same result. Prasanna, Venkatesh and Ganguly have all got 2.5 points apart from Deep Sengupta who accounted for Robert Bellin of England.
Important and Indian results round 3 (Indians unless specified): Tamir Nabaty (Isr, 2) lost to Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 3); P Harikrishna (3) beat Ioan-Cristian Chirila (Rou, 2); Wenjun Ju (Chn, 3) beat Richard Rapport (Hun, 2); M R Lalith Babu (3) beat Ivan Cheparinov (Bul, 2); Maxim Rodshtein (Isr, 3) beat Allan Stig Rasmussen (Den, 2); Bela Khotenashvili (Geo, 2) lost to Wei Yi (Chn, 3); Yifan Hou (Chn, 3) beat Al-Sayed Mohammed (Qat, 2); Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul, 3) beat Romain Edouard (Fra, 2); B Adhiban (3) beat Alexander Donchenko (Ger, 2); Gudmundur Kjartansson (Isl, 3) beat Axel Bachmann (Par, 2); V Vishnu Prasanna (2.5) drew with Daniel Naroditsky (Usa, 2.5); Nils Grandelius (Swe, 3) beat Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez (Esp, 2); M R Venkatesh (2.5) drew with Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2.5); Michael Roiz (Isr, 3) beat Soumya Swaminathan (2); Jovanka Houska (Eng, 2) lost to Renier Vazquez Igarza (Esp, 3); S P Sethuraman (2) drew with Irina Krush (Usa, 2); Neelotpal Das (1.5) lost to A R Salem Saleh (Uae, 2.5); Ruben Felgaer (Arg, 2) drew with Padmini Rout (2); Deep Sengupta (2.5) beat Robert Bellin (Eng, 1.5); Johan Salomon (Nor, 2) drew with Debashis Das (2); Sandipan Chanda (2) beat Menna Barreto Felipe Kubiaki (Bra, 1); D Harika (1.5) drew with Urbina Perez Juan Antonio (Esp, 1.5); M Shyam Sundar (2) beat Hendrik Hoffmann (Ger, 1); Diego Herman (Arg, 1.5) drew with Arghyadip Das (1.5); Alan Walton (Eng, 1.5) drew with Eesha Karavade (1.5).