Kolkata, Dec 13 (IANS): Armenian Grand Master Samvel Ter Sahakyan and International Master Mikhail Mozharov of Russia joined overnight leader Georgia's GM Levan Pantsulaia at the top with seven points after the ninth and penultimate round of the SREI International Grandmasters Chess Tournament here Friday.
Six players - GMs Ivan Popov (Russia), Vladislav Borovikov and Valeriy Neverov (both Ukraine), Azer Mirzoev (Azerbaijan) and his compatriot IM Bahruz Rzavev and Fide Master Tigran S Petrosyan (Armenia) - jointly occupy the second slot at 6.5 points each.
With merely half a point separating the leaders and their immediate challengers, the fancied tournament is poised for an exciting finish Saturday.
On the top board, Pantsulaia accepted the peace treaty offered byPopov in just 25 moves in an advanced Caro-Kan defence to retain his position at the top.
Ter-Sahakyan, overnight joint second, got the better of the Georgian GM Tornike Sanikidze while IM Jacek Stopa of Poland - needing only a draw from two rounds to secure his maiden GM norm - lost, yet again. Mozharov conquered Stopa.
Siblings N.R. Vignesh and N.R. Visakh achieved a nine-game IM norm, both having secured the required points before the start of the game.
For the record, Vignesh (5.5) drew with the Armenian grandmaster Babujian Levon (5.5), while Visakh (5.5)split point with top seed, GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly (5.5), who tried desperately to squeeze out a win from a sterile position.
Petrosyan, too, achieved an IM norm, with an upset win over GM Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia.
TOP BOARD RESULTS :
GM Ivan Popov (6.5) drew with GM Levan Pantsulaia (7);
GM Tornike Sanikidze (6) lost to GM Samvel TerSahakvan (7);
GM Vladislav Borovikov (6.5) drew GM Valeriy Neverov (6.5);
IM Jacek Stopa (6) lost to Mikhail Mozharov (7);
GM Deep Sengupta (5.5) lost to GM Azer Mirzoev (6.5);
IM Bahruz Rzavev (6.5) bt GM Marat Dzhumaev (5.5);
FM Tigran S Petrosyan (6.5) bt GM Merab Gagunashvili(5.5);
Nr Visakh (5.5)drewGM Surya Sekhar Ganguly (5.5);
Nr Vignesh (5.5) drew GM Babujian Levon (5.5);
IM Siddharth Ravichandran (5) lost to GM R R Laxman (6);
IM Murali Karhikeyan (6) bt IM Anurag Mhamal (5);
Ap.V. Karthik (5.5) drew GM Praveen M Thipsay (5.5);
GM Hovik Hayrapetyan (5.5) bt GM Raset Ziatdinov (4.5);
GM Neelotpal Das (5) drew IM P. Karthikeyan (5);
GM Sinisa Drazic (5.5) bt IM V. Saravanan (4.5);
IM Swayams Mishra (5.5) bt S. Ravi Teja (4.5);
WGM Mary Ann Gomes (5) drew Prantik Roy (5).