*GM Harsha Bharathakoti and GM R Praggnanandhaa (Photo by Shahid Ahmed)
Grandmaster Harsha Bharathakoti held top seed Praggnanandhaa R in the sixth round and with five points maintained his pole position while in the women's section Nandhidhaa P V grabbed the sole lead after beating compatriot Priyanka Nutakki in the Asian Continental Chess Championship here.
Playing white side of the Catalan opening, Harsha exchanged the pieces with his top seed at regular intervals to sign the peace treaty after 33 moves. A group of eleven players including Prgganandhaa are trailing behind the leader with a drift of half point.
Grandmaster Leon Luke Mendonca drew with Sethuraman S P while Karthikeyan Murali split the point with compatriot Grandmaster B Adhiban. Second seed Narayanan S L moved closer with a win over Sandipan Chanda while Aravindh Chithambaram got the better of Ayush Sharma.
In the women’s section, Nandhidhaa P V emerged sole leader after beating Priyanka Nutakki in the sixth round. Playing with dark pieces in the Alapin Variation of Sicilian Defense, Nandhidhaa capitalized the positional mistake committed by her opponent in the middle game to garner full point from the outing to take her point tally to five and half points. She now enjoys a one point lead over nearest contenders Padmini Rout and Priyanka Nutakki with three rounds remaining.
After a sedate start, 2018 edition winner third seed Padmini Rout found her rhythm back to beat sixth seed Nilufur Yakubbaeva of Uzbekistan to follow the leader with four and half points.