Mumbai, Aug 14 (IANS) India’s Grandmaster S.L. Narayanan remained in contention for the title as he played out a draw with overnight leader Igor Kovalenko of Latvia in the eighth and penultimate round of the Riga Technical University (RTU) Open Classical Chess Championships in Riga, Latvia on Saturday.
With only one round to go in the top open chess tournament in the region, Narayanan was sharing first place with Kovalenko and Alexander Donchenko of Germany with 6.5 points. Donchenko beat Vahap Sanal with white pieces to join Narayanan and Kovalenko on the top spot. The ninth and final round will be held on Sunday in which Narayanan will play Ilia Smirin of Israel while Kovalenko will meet Donchenko with white pieces on the top board. To claim the title, Narayanan has to win his ninth round game and hope the match between his nearest rivals ends in a draw.
Sharing the fourth spot are 10 players including four Indians — Arjun Erigaisi, Arjun Kalyan, D Gukesh, and Murali Karthikeyan — all on six points. While the two Arjuns — Erigaisi and Kalyan — drew their eighth-round matches, Gukesh and Karthikeyan maintained their chances of a top-10 finish by winning their eighth-round games. Gukesh defeated Martin Stukan of Russia, Karthikeyan got the better of Viktor Dmitrenko of Ukraine.
Nihal Sarin, the top Indian in this tournament with an Elo rating of 2655, was on 5.5 points after being held to a draw by Luka Budisavljevic (2495) of Serbia and was joined by two-time national champion Aravindh Chithambaram, Pranav Anand, R Praggnanandhaa, Raja Harshit, SP Sethuraman, who also won his game, and NR Visakh all at 5.5 points.