Abu Dhabi: Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte bowed out of contention for top spot when he went down fighting to GM Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia in the seventh round of the 13th Abu Dhabi chess festival on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Tejas Bakreís hopes of getting his last GM norm diminished when he lost to IM Ramil Hasangatin of Russia in 45 moves in an English opening. In a double rook endgame, Hasangatin won two pawns and nursed his advantage to victory with precise technique.
Armenian GMs Gabriel Sargissian and top seed Smbat Lputian along with GM Pavel Kotsur of Kazakhstan emerged at the top with crucial wins, taking their tally to 5.5 points.
Grandmaster Evegeny Vladimirov of Kazakhstan, GM Jobava Baadur of Georgia and Leksandr Poluljahov of Russia are joint fourth with five each while Indian GMs P. Harikrishna and Sandipan Chanda are in the next pack with 4.5 points.
Kunte lost to Gagunashvili from a Nimzo Indian defence in 33 moves. The Indianís inaccuracy in the opening left him with a backward pawn on the queen file, which ultimately led to his defeat. Despite a slight lag in development, Gagunashvili was able to snatch the pawn and complete his development by moving his king to a safe square.
Harikrishna drew with Sandipan in a battle lasting 73 moves from a king pawn opening. Sandipan attained a slight edge but Harikrishna fought back to attain counter play. The queens left the board on the 31st move and after probing weakness in a rook and pawn ending, the players agreed for a draw.
The lone Indian victor on the day was IM Chandrashekhar Gokhale, who defeated IM Al Sayed Mohammed of Qatar in a king pawn opening in 85 moves.