Gopal, Sengupta hold higher-ranked players; Gupta loses

Grandmaster GN Gopal continued his fine form and put in a brave front to hold higher-ranked Yuriy Kuzubov of Ukraine to a draw in the fifth round of Al Ain Classic, here on Tuesday.

On what turned out to be a tough day for the highest-ranked Indian Abhijeet Gupta here, Deep Sengupta also came up with an inspired performance to hold highly rated Seregi Zhigalko of Belarus to a draw in a keenly contested game.

The fortunes of defending champion Abhijeet suffered a setback as he lost from a position of strength against Gaioz Nigalidze of Georgia.

With four rounds still remaining in the 11000 USD first prize tournament, Gaioz Nigalidze emerged as the surprising sole leader on 4.5 points after winning his game against Gupta.

The Indian trio of Sengupta, Gopal and Sandipan Chanda are in joint second spot now on four points each along with 12 others including top seed Yuriy Kryvoruchko of Ukraine.

It was a hard fifth round for the Indians in general at the half way mark. Having done well till now, former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan went haywire and lost rather tamely against Rauf Mamedov of Azwrbaijan.

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