Debashish closes in on maiden Grandmaster norm

Athens (Greece): International Master Debashish Das closed in on his maiden Grandmaster norm after settling for a draw with GM Alexander Shimanov of Russia in the eighth round of World Junior chess championship here.

With six points from eight rounds so far Das, who recently won the National challengers championship, is a draw away from attaining his maiden Grandmaster norm.

The Indian has thus far scored five victories, two draws besides a lone loss against compatriot Sahaj Grover and given the form he is in, the GM norm looks in sight. In the next round, Das plays with Niclas Huschenbeth of Germany.

In the game against Shimanov, Das remained in his elements not giving anything away. Playing the black side of a Queen pawn game, the Russian was always under pressure and even when the peace was signed, the position was preferable for Das.

Double Grandmaster norm holder Sahaj Grover, however, spoilt his huge opening advantage against Antonios Pavlidis of Greece and had to settle for a draw.

This means that the Delhi-based can become a Grandmaster here only if he wins his next round against Jorge Cori of Peru.

Grover did many things right to get a winning position out of a queen pawn game as white. But when the endgame arrived he missed out on simple continuations to let Pavlidis back in the game. The final position when the Greek took a draw was in fact lost for Grover.

At the top of the tables, YU Yangyi of China defeated Karen Grigoryan of Armenia to join overnight leader Alexander Ipatov of Turkey at the top on six and half points out of a possible eight.

Ipatov drew with top seed Yagyi Yu of China and its now a three-way lead with Richard Rapport of Hungary being the third contestant at the top after his fine effort against Russian Mikhail Antipov.

With three leaders on 6.5 points, Debashish Das is in the next group of players having six points sharing the fourth spot. Grover, the Bronze medallist last year, remains in contention on 5.5 points but it take a huge effort from him to make a podium finish like the last time.

Among other Indians in the fray, the all Indian affair between Diptayan Ghosh and P Shyam Nikil ended in a draw while M Shyam Sundar proved his true mettle to outwit Firat Burak of Turkey.

Finally getting his rhythm, the youngest ever national junior champion Aravindh Chithambaram defeated Gao Rui of China and Kazakh Ilyas Sodikov proved no match for Anwesh Upadhyaya.

Nishant Malhotra, however, ran out of steam and succumbed to his third loss in a row in the event.

In the girls` championship, Bhakti Kulkarni remained within striking distance of the leaders after a clinical victory against higher ranked Klaudia Kulon of Poland but the other Indian girls Pon N Krithika and Ivana Maria Furtado ended on the losing side.

Bhakti moved to 5.5 points in this section, Krithika remained on four while Ivana will have to do all the hard work again at 3.5 points. Nastassia Ziaziulkina of Belarus leads this section with 6.5 points from eight games.