Abhijeet Gupta holds Vachier Lagrave
Doha (Qatar), Dec 1 (PTI) Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta missed out on his chances but still got an easy draw against fourth seeded Frenchman Maxime Vachier Lagrave in the fifth round of the Qatar International Open Chess Tournament now underway here.
Catching Lagrave in an unfamiliar territory, Gupta was not quite happy that he could not press for more against a member of the elite club and the game quickly fizzled out to a draw leaving the Indian on 3.5 points out of five rounds.
Top seed Anish Giri of Holland made himself hot favourite for the crown after he downed third seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan in another miniature.
After winning the previous round game with white pieces in a mere 18 moves against Mikhailo Oleksienko of Ukraine, Giri yet again turned up with his best and crushed Mamedyarov in just 21 moves with black pieces.
With five points from as many games, Giri is now followed solely by Nils Grandelius of Sweden who defeated another favourite Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine. Grandelius is on 4.5 points.
A pack of eight players, including former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia are on four points apiece trying to give the leaders a run for their money. Kramnik seems to have found his rhythm after draws in the first two games as he went about business-as-usual in his technical triumph over Andrey Vovk of Ukraine.
With four rounds still to come, Gupta and highest-rated Indian P Harikrishna are on 3.5 points each and still in with a chance to do sort of catch up in this strongest open tournament of the world. The Indians will clash with each other in the sixth round now.
Gupta knew it will be a Grunfeld and went about testing Vachier Lagrave in one of the popular variations. It was a different site to see Gupta go over thirty minutes on the clock as Vachier thought for a long time in the opening.
Knowing that he was caught in some deep preparation, the Frenchman took a risk and sacrificed a pawn to reach the rook and pawns endgame. Gupta needed copy-book technique to win such an endgame but for once he faltered and the game drifted towards a draw soon after. The peace was signed after 45 moves when no further improvement was possible for Gupta.