Young Grandmaster Vaibhav Suri put up a fine display of counter-attack and held top seed Wang Hao of China to a creditable draw in the second round of Abu Dhabi Masters, here.
Playing the white side of a Benoni defense, Suri was clinical in his approach and got a good position when the middle game surfaced. The Chinese Grandmaster found his way out with a positional piece sacrifice and in the end it was a draw through repetition.
Highest-rated Indian Abhijeet Gupta was held to a draw by compatriot Diptayan Ghosh who held on to his own with black pieces. The Reti Opening by Gupta did not yield much advantage and even though the former world junior champion tried hard, Ghosh was always armed with his defense.
Gupta finally gave two pieces for a rook and Ghosh managed a perfect blockade to force the draw.
As many as 13 players emerged as joint leaders on two points from as many games and the list includes three Indian Grandmasters in Vidit Gujrathi, G N Gopal and M R Lalith Babu. As many as 18 players including Gupta, Suri and Wang Hao remain on the heels of the leader a half point behind.
Among the leaders Vidit Gujrathi made short work of Tamas Meszaros of Hungary while Gopal defeated Mitra Hejazipour of Iran. M R Lalith Babu scored over Eesha Karavade to maintain a clean slate.
It turned out to be another good day for Indians generally. M Shyam Sundar did well to hold Egyptian Grandmaster Amin Baseem while Murali Karthikeyan and P Shyam Nikil made a stride forward for their Grandmaster norms by holding Armenian duo of Arman Pashikian and Tigran Petrosian respectively.
After a faulty start that cost him a winning game in the first round, Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly came roaring back to form at the expense of Siva Mahadevan.
The other Indian norm seekers also had a good day as S L Narayanan held Viorel Iordachescu of Moldova to a draw, VAV Rajesh signed truce with Russian Sergey Volkov and Shardul Gagare achieved the same result with another Russian – Vladimir Burmakin.
It was a day of mixed opportunity for Grandmaster Sahaj Grover as he let a nearly-equal endgame slip against higher ranked Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine. Grover started with the Jaenisch variation with black pieces and crawled back in game after initial hiccups. However, the Indian dropped a piece when it appeared that things were under control.
The nine rounds event will now have a rest day with a blitz chess tournament and the battle will resume with a double round day on Saturday.
Important and Indian results round 2 (Indians unless specified): Vaibhav Suri (1.5) drew with Wang Hao (Chn, 1.5); Yuriy Kryvoruchko (Ukr, 2) beat Ankit Rajpara (1); Valeriy Neverov (Ukr, 1) lost to Alexander Areshchenko (Ukr, 2); Yuriy Kuzubov (Ukr, 2) beat Vugar Rasulov (Aze, 1); Ulvi Bajarani (Aze, 1) lost to Andrei Istratescu (Fra, 2); Zahar Efimenko (Ukr, 2) beat Sahaj Grover (1); P Shyam Nikil (1.5) drew with Tigran Petrosian (Arm, 1.5); Abhijeet Gupta (1.5) drew with Diptayan Ghosh (1.5); Murali Karthikeyan (1.5) drew with Arman Pashikian (Arm, 1.5); Amin Bassem (Egy, 1.5) drew with M Shyam Sundar (1.5); Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (2) beat Tamas Meszaros (Hun, 1); Shardul Gagare (1.5) drew with Vladimir Burmakin (Rus, 1.5); A R Saleh Salem (Uae, 2) beat Ramnath Bhuvanesh (1); Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan (1.5) drew with Viorel Iordachescu (Mda, 1.5); Sergey Volkov (Rus, 1.5) drew with V A V Rajesh (1.5); M R Lalith Babu (2) beat Eesha Karavade (1); Mitra Hejazipour (Iri, 1) lost to G N Gopal (2); Adam Horvath (Hun, 2) beat P Iniyan (1); Siva Mahadevan (0) lost to Surya Shekhar Ganguly (1); L N Ram Aravind (0.5) drew with Estremera Panos Sergio(Esp, 0.5); Majid Laabi Chian (Iri, 0.5) drew with Fenil Shah (0.5).