Defending champion and Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta was held to a draw by International Master Nubairshah Sheikh in the third round of the Commonwealth Chess Championship now underway here.
It turned out to be a dificult outing for the top seeded player as Sheikh, who is doubling his stint in the under-20 section of the championships as well, stayed well on course in an irregular opening game with white pieces.
Gupta sacrificed a pawn in the endgame and things looked a bit complicated but Sheikh was always out of the danger-zone and drew comfortably.
The trend of upsets continued in the event as second seed Aravindh Chithamabaram was also held to a draw by Rishi Sardana of Australia. Grandmaster Abhijeet Kunte also dropped a half point when he could not force matters against Mary Ann Gomes.
The women-power was in fact on display in the third round as International Women Master Swati Ghate outwitted Grandmaster Deepan Chakkravarthy. Bhakti Kulkarni defeated higher ranked P Shyam Nikil while K Priyanka downed International Master C R G Krishna.
In an all-women duel, veteran IWM Bhagyashree Thipsay proved superior to Tania Sachdev even though the latter holds over 300 points rating advantage.
Indian Junior champion Kumar Gaurav remained on course for a second International Master norm with an impressive display. Having beaten GM Ziaur Rahaman in the opener and a draw with IM C Pravin Kumar, Gaurav today held higher ranked Md. Taibur Rahman of Bangladesh to a draw.
With six rounds still remaining in the Rs. 10 Lakhs Championships, Grandmasters Vaibahv Suri, Swapnil Dhopade, Ankit Rajpara and Swati Ghate, Bhakti Kulkarni and Priyanka share the lead with a perfect score.
A wolf-pack of strong players including Abhijeet Gupta is on the heels of the six leaders a half point behind and the battle is only going to heat up as the event now enters the mid-way stage.
Important results round 3: M N Sheikh (2.5) drew with Abhijeet Gupta; Aravindh Chithambaram (2.5) drew with Rishi Sardana (2.5); Alexander Wohl (2) lost to Vaibhav Suri (3); Soumya Swaminathan (2) lost to Swapnil Dhopade (3); Abhijit Kunte (2.5) drew with Mary Ann Gomes (2.5); Swati Ghate (3) beat Deepan Chakkravarthy (2); Nisha Mohota (2) lost to Ankit Rajpara (3); P Shyamnikil (2) lost to Bhakti Kulkarni (3); K Priyanka (3) beat C R G Krishna (Aradhya Garg (2.5) beat M S Thejkumar (1.5).