Dubai: International Master Sayantan Das closed in on his Grandmaster norm, defeating Serbian Mihajlo Stojanovic in the seventh round of Dubai International Open chess tournament here at the Dubai Chess and Culture club. Das has now taken his tally to a very respectable five points out of a possible seven, and given the strong opposition he has faced here either one or 1.5 points in the last two rounds should fetch him the Grandmaster norm.
K Rathnakaran also continued with his fine run in the tournament and played out a draw with GM Alexander Rakhmanov of Russia with ease. Rathnakaran also moved to five points in all but his chances of a GM norm are not good as he did not faced higher ranked opposition in the first few rounds.
Meanwhile, the highest rated Indian, Abhijeet Gupta finally found his form and played an excellent game with white pieces to beat compatriot Nr Visakh. It was a reverse Benoni wherein Visakh gave up a good fight but Gupta gained a small advantage and nurtured it well to win a piece by force. Gupta moved to 4.5 points and will need to win the last two games to figure among prizes. Among other Indians in the fray, Rakesh Kulkarni lived up to his reputation of a giant killer and put it across Grandmaster Sahaj Grover. It was a bad day in office for young Grover when nothing went right for him.
The French defense as black led to problems that could not be solved and Kulkarni won a piece early to score a facile victory. Murali Karthikeyan, R R Lazman, Sagar Shah and Eesha Karavade also moved up to 4.5 points and have a chance to figure in the list of USD 50000 prize money tournament. Karthikeyan hit form and scored over Abhishek Kelkar, Laxman had a good draw against higher ranked Brazilian Alexander Fier, Sagar Shah had it easy against Sameer Kathmale, while Karavade accounted for Fawzy Adham of Egypt.
Alexander Shabalov of United States outplayed Andrei Istratescu of France to jointly lead the tables with Vladimir Fedoseev of Russia. With just two rounds to go, both leaders have six points apiece. In a bizarre incident, Grandmaster Gaioz Nigaladze of Georgia forfeited his previous round game when he was found cheating on a mobile device. Nigaladze’s frequent visits to the toilet made his opponent Tigran Petrosian suspicious and he asked for a checking of his opponent.