Grandmaster and highest rated Indian in the fray, Abhijeet Gupta shot into sole lead, defeating Hatim Al-Hadarani of Yemen in the fourth round of 16th Dubai International open chess tournament. The victory with black pieces turned out to be fourth in a row for Gupta and his clean slate helped him annex the sole lead on four points. It was a clean effort by the Indian as Hatim Al-Hadarani fell prey to some finely crafted manoeuvres in the endgame.
As many as six players — Axel Bachmann of Paraguay, Eduardo Itturizaga of Venezuela, Zaven Andriasian of Armenia, Constantin Lupulescu of Romania, Anuar Ismagambetov of Kazakhstan and Romain Edouard of France remain on the heels of the leader with 3.5 points apiece. With five rounds still to come in the 50000 USD prize money tournament, another 32 players are in close pursuit with three points each.
However, the day belonged to Gupta as he made the most of opportunities against Hatim Al-Hadarani who played an irregular queen pawn game. Playing black, Gupta obtained a complicated middle game and then pounced on a killer stroke that netted him a pawn without any counter play. As the game progressed, Al-Hadarani fell under time pressure and the ensuing rook and pawns endgame was no respite.
Grandmaster M R Lalith Babu also came up with a good result although he was not quite satisfied with the draw against highly regarded Vladimir Akopian of Armenia as the Indian felt he held good chances in the middle game and then in the endgame. For the record, it was a Slav defense wherein Akopian got in to some difficulties and the liquidation also resulted in a worse endgame.
Resourceful as he is, Akopian fought on to get the equality he was looking for and the peace was signed in 54 moves. Grandmaster Sahaj Grover put his loss against Abhijeet Gupta aside and scored an easy victory over compatriot Harshal Shahi. The Taimanov Sicilian by Shahi did not yield desired results as Grover got an opening advantage that he nurtured well enough to score his third victory in the tournament.
M Shyam Sundar and Diptayan Ghosh came out with good results drawing with Aleksandr Rakhmanov of Russia and Csaba Balogh of Hungary respectively while Debashish Das and Swapnil Dhopade ended on the losing side.