Untitled 13-years old Murali Karthikeyan scored his maiden Grandmaster norm after securing a draw with Commonwealth champion M R Lalith Babu in the ninth and penultimate round of the premier section of Parsvnath International chess tournament now underway here.
International Master K Rathnakaran also joined the party by making his second Grandmaster norm defeating top seed Abhijeet Gupta.
With just one round to come now, Aleksandrov is sitting pretty in the tournament on 7.5 points from nine games enjoying a half point lead over nearest contender Henrik Teske of Germany.
Amongst other top games, Suri played out a hard-fought draw with Kuderinov while Magesh Chandran scored a fine technical victory over Czebe Attila of Hungary.
The hero of the day however was former under-12 World champion Murali Karthikeyan who played another nerve-wracking game in the tournament. The Chennai-based youngster lost a pawn in the endgame but fought on well to force parity against Lalith Babu. The achievement makes Murali the youngest Grandmaster norm holder in the country currently.
Rathnakar defeated Gupta from a slightly worse middle game arising out of a Center-counter opening. Gupta blundered to land himself in to difficulties and then Rathnakaran pushed for victory with some precise play.
Apart from two Grandmaster norms, Rakesh Kulkarni made an International Master norm while Wang Doudou of China made her International Women Master norm.
The final round will be played on Sunday morning at 10 AM.
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