New Delhi:International Master Himanshu Sharma's winning juggernaut was halted by IM M K Rathnakaran who clinched a comprehensive win in the eighth round to jump into the sole lead at the Parsvnath Commonwealth Chess Championship in New Delhi on Saturday.
Overnight sole leader Sharma, who rolled over his fancied rivals till the seventh round, surrendered against Rathnakaran, who was fresh from his previous round win against local star and Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi at the Sirifort Sports complex.
In another interesting game of the day, Woman Grandmaster Nisha Mohota upset Bangaldesh GM Reefat Bin Sattar.
With two more rounds remaining in the tournament, Rathnakaran led at seven points out of a possible eight while Mohota, with 6.5 points, joined top seed Surya Shekhar Ganguly, GM R B Ramesh, IMs Vikramaditya Kamble, Sriram Jha and Sharma at the joint second spot.
Rathnakaran, playing white, went into the offensive from the start in the Sicilian Rossolimo variation and forced Sharma to give up his queen on the 29th move to avert mate.
Rathnakaran completed the formality on move 36.
The game between Mohota and Sattar was on equal footing but the WGM gained slight advantage by winning a pawn. Under the time pressure, Sattar overlooked a mate threat and resigned when faced with loss of a piece.
As the competition is meandering to close, tough fight was witnessed on all the boards.
Ganguly remained in the hunt for the championship by stopping IM Arun Prasad in the Caro-Kann opening. Arun, playing black, could not equalise while Ganguly created good
outpost for his pieces and won a pawn on the 27th move and thereafter wrapped up the game on the 31st move.
The game between IM Sundarajan Kidambi and second seeded English GM Gawain Jones also witnessed tough fighting but Kidambi managed to hold Jones for a draw in 45 moves.
It was a bad day in office for veterean Indian Grandmasters Praveen Thipsay and Dibyendu Barua, who crashed against Kamble and P Karthikeyan respectively.
However, M S Thejkumar earned his first IM norm.
Key Results of Round 8 (Indians unless specified):
K Rathnakaran (7) Beat Himanshu Sharma (6.5), S S Ganguly (6.5) Beat Arun Prasad S ( 5.5), S Kidambi (6) Drew Gawain Jones (ENG, 6), Reefat Bin-Sattar (BAN, 5.5) Lost to Nisha Mohota (6.5), D Harika (6) Drew P Konguvel (6), R B Ramesh (6.5) Beat Lanka Ravi ( 5.5), V Kamble (6.5) Beat Praveen Thipsay (5.5), Shashikant Kutwal (5.5) Lost to Sriram Jha (6.5), Deep Sengupta (6) Drew MS Thejkumar (6), Abhijit Kunte (6) beat V Saravanan (5), R R Laxman (5.5) Drew Parimarjan Negi (5.5), Abdulla Al-Rakib (BAN, 6) beat Arghyadip Das (5), Dibyendu Barua (5) Lost to P Karthikeyan (6), Abhishek Das (6) Beat Rohit Gogineni (5), Abhijeet Gupta (6) Beat S Nitin (5), Tejas Bakre (6) Beat Mary Ann Gomes (5), Gillani Tunveer M D (PAK, 5.5) Drew P D S Girinath (5.5), J Ramakrishna (5.5) drew Murshed Niaz (BAN, 5.5), Soumya Swaminathan (5.5) Drew Wohl Aleksandar H (AUS, 5.5), Bitan Banerjee (5.5) Drew V Devaki Prasad (5.5).