| Harikrishna is in a pack of 22 placed second
Abu Dhabi: Double GM norm holder Tejas Bakre defeated former Hastings champion GM Alexei Barsov of Uzbekistan in the second round in the masters section of the Abu Dhabi chess festival on Monday.
Seven players, including Bakre, emerged joint leaders with two points after two rounds in the 76-player field which includes 26 GMs.
Sharing the lead with Bakre are top seed GM Smbat Lputian of Armenia, GM Evgeny Vladimirov of Kazakhstan, GM Jobava Baadur of Georgia, GM Valeri Neverov of Ukraine, GM Dizdar Goran of Croatia and IM Sergey Kayumov of Uzbekistan.
British Open champion GM Abhijit Kunte, GM P. Harikrishna and Sandipan Chanda are all part of the huge pack of 22 players following the leaders half-a-point behind.
Sandipan drew with GM Vasily Yemelin of Russia after being under intense pressure in a rook and opposite colour bishops endgame arising out of a Sicilian Defence. The Indian had to fight a marathon battle lasting 89 moves before securing the half point.
Harikrishna beat compatriot Chandrashekhar Gokhale after a keen tussle, while Kunte defeated Hamad Altamimi of Qatar in a one-sided game.
Bakre was clearly the star of the day. Up against the French Defence, he was at his tactical best and blunted Barsov’s dangerous looking attack.
It was a rather unusual variation that prompted Barsov to get into unwarranted complications and before he had a real clue, the Uzbek was fighting a rook-less position. The game lasted just 27 moves.
Harikrishna used his pawn formation to mount pressure on Gokhale’s central pawn. However, Gokhale played aptly and attained dynamic balance. In time pressure, Gokhale overlooked a tactical combination and lost after the 45th move.
Kunte employed the Catalan opening and got a slight advantage in the middle game. Altamimi got into real problems after going for an erroneous combination that won him the queen for three pieces. Kunte wasted little time and wrapped the game in 39 moves.