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Amonatov in joint lead with Nikitenko in Maharashtra Open International GM tournament

GM Nikitenko Mihail (white) playing agianst Amonatov Farrukh(Black) in 8th round.

Pune: The 1st Maharashtra International Open Grandmaster Chess tournament being played at the  Balewadi Sports Complex here is poised for an exciting and enthralling finish with the overseas Grandmasters top seed Farrukh Amonatov, Mihail Nikitenko and Boris Savchenko assuming joint lead with 6.5 points each after the completion of the 8th round on Sunday.

The Indian Grandmasters appeared to be bogged down with draws.  However, 15-year-old Aditya Mittal, Arjun Kalyan, V Karthik, Deep Sengupta, Neelash Saha, Aleksej Aleksandrov, Nguyen Duc Hoa are trailing just half a point behind the leaders. With just three more rounds remaining in this 11-round Swiss League tournament, the race for the title is still very much wide open.

Nikitenko and Amonatov  without risking anything indulged in a short technical draw in just 14 moves of a Spanish Opening by repeating the moves thrice.

The French-Winawar  game between the two Indian GMs Arjun Kalyan and Deep Sengeupta also ended in a draw without much happening on the board. The queens were traded early and players sealed truce after 31 moves. “ The position was dead equal and I didn’t see any progress happening so settled for a draw shrugged Sengupta.

Karthik was impressive in a Queen’s Gambit Declined game against Sharan Rao. He broke through on the king-side and offered his rook as a bait on the 37th turn to set up a checkmating net. Sharan declined but Karthik kept up relentless pressure to win the game after 72 moves.

The closed Catalan game between Srihari and Lalith Babu was keenly contested but petered into a draw after 54 moves. Both had a queen, a minor piece and five pawns each at that time.

WGM Divya Deshmukh played a fine game to outwit IM Numbair Shah Shaikh. In  fascinating game arising out of a Reti Opening, Divya managed to promote two of her pawns on the queen-side after sacrificing her queen. After the spate of exchanges Divya had a rook for a bishop. Showing good technique, Divya  settled the game in her favour after 77 moves.

Results: Round 8: GM Mihail Nikitenko (6.5) drew with GM Farrukh Amonatov (6.5);GM Boris Savachenko (6.5) bt Kiriil Stupak (5.5); IM Aditya Mittal (6) drew with  GM Nguyen Duc Hoa (6); GM Arjun Kalyan (6) drew with  GM Deep Sengupta (6); IM Neelash Saha (6) bt Kaustuv Kundu (5); GM Aleksej Aleksandrov (6) bt Vedant Panesar (5); GM V Karthik (6) bt FM Sharan Rao (5); GM Venkatesh M R (5.5) bt IM P Konguvel (4.5); FM Samant Aditya (5.5) bt WIM Priyanka Nuttaki (4.5); IM L R Srihari (5.5) drew with GM M R Lalith Babu (5.5); GM Nguyen Van Huv (5) lost to GM Vishnu Prasanna (5.5); GM Luka Paichadze (5.5) drew with IM Anuj Shrivatri (5.5); IM Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh (4.5) lost to WGM Divya Deshmukh (5.5); GM Azer Mirzoev (5) drew Aaryan Varshney (5.5) .