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Hastings: GM K. Sasikiranís hunt for victory continued as he drew with GM Alexei Barsov of Uzbekistan in the fifth round of the 65th Hastings International Chess Congress.

GM Luke McShane of England beat GM Peter Heine Nielsen of Denmark, cutting his lead down to half a point. Nielsen (3.5) is followed by GM Keith Arkell of England, Alexi Barsov and Indian GM P. Harikrishna, who also drew his board. Sasikiran, McShane and GM Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine are on 2.5.

For Sasikiran, it was the fifth successive draw in as many rounds. Earlier the players battled the opening moves of a Capablanca variation in the Nimzo Indian Defence where the Indian had the advantage of the first move.

In the middle game, Sasikiran, in an unconventional move, opted to keep his king in the centre and embarked on a king-side attack with heavy pieces.

Barsov, to his credit, worked out the counter play in style. By giving away a pawn for co-ordination of his forces, the Uzbek kept himself in the game and proposed a draw on the 27th move that Sasikiran accepted.

Harikrishna, playing white, drew against Arkell. Up against a Bogo Indian Defence, Harikrishna kept his opponent on the edge in the middle game. Arkell struck on the queenside and won a pawn and was forced to part with a rook for knight. (PTI)

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