Himanshu extends sole lead, Negi shocked

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New Delhi, Dec 7 (UNI) IM Himanshu Sharma continued his dream run with one more scalp in the form of Bangaldeshi GM Abdulla Al-Rakib while local favourite GM Parimarjan Negi suffered a shock loss to compatriot IM K Rathnakaran in the 7th round of the Parsvnath Commonwealth Chess Championship here today.

With today's win, Himanshu maintained his sole lead in the 282-player field by a margin of half-point with a score of 6.5 points.

Other upsets of the day were the victory of untitled player Shashikant Kutwal over Indian GM Deepan Chakravarthy and Thej Kumar's impressive win over IM Venkatesh.

On the top board, Al-Rakib, playing black, opted for a rarely played Bird's variation of the Ruy Lopez opening to surprise Himanshu.

However, Himanshu maintained the balance. Both the players regularly exchanged pieces in the middle-game to reach a knight ending.

The balance swung in favour of Himanshu as he had better placed Knight, which allowed him to win a pawn on 38th move.

Thereafter, it was just a matter of technique for him to clinch a full point on 41st move.

On the second board, top-seeded Surya Sekhar Ganguly opted to play safe against IM Kidambi and both players agreed for a draw in 16 moves only.

The third board game between GM Parimarjan and IM Rathnakaran turned to be a good crowd puller as well as a shocker.

Parimarjan was in his elements as he achieved complete command in the beginning employing the French defence game from the white side.

With a knight sacrifice, he exposed Rathnakaran's king to create winning attack. Rathnakaran, however, hung on to stay in the game after which, Negi emerged better on the material count by 34th move.

However, disaster struck for Parimarjan as he made some dubious moves to loosen his grip on the game. Rathnakaran utilised his two connected passers to force surrender of Negi.

With this win, Rathnakaran now occupies sole second spot with six points while a pack of 16 players are on the third spot with a score of 5.5 points The games between Arun Prasad and Harika, Nisha Mohota and Ramesh, Praveen Thipsay and Lanka Ravi, Sriram Jha and Vikramadity Kamble ended in a draw.

Second seeded GM Gawain Jones redeemed himself with a win over Saptarshi Roy.

UNI

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