Predke and Erigaisi share the lead in the sixth round of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament

India’s GM Arjun Erigaisi (left) considers a move against Kazakhstan’s GM Rinat Jumabayev during their sixth round of the Dubai Open chess tournament at Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

Gulf today, Staff reporter

Second-seeded Indian GM Arjun Erigaisi, who will celebrate his 19th birthday on Saturday, beat fifth-round leader GM Rinat Jumabayev of Kazakhstan to overtake the latter and take a share of the lead with 5.5 points in the sixth round of the Dubai Chess Open. Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

The other player with 5.5 points is heavy favorite GM Alexandr Predke of Russia, who picked up another quick victory, beating FM Ayush Sharma of India. Thursday’s results set up a much-anticipated matchup between the tournament’s two highest-rated players in the seventh round.

Erigaisi’s victory also coincided with his official entry into the 2700 rating club, with a rating of 2725 in the September Fide rating list released yesterday.

“It feels good,” Erigaisi said of the achievement and added that he will do his best to keep improving.

Against Jumabayev, the Indian said he prepared a line against the Nimzo-Indian where white opts for an aggressive kingside expansion, although he admitted to being offside when the Kazakh took d5 and then played a6.

“I didn’t know it, but I liked my position,” Erigaisi said. When white played g4 with the intention of pushing the pawn further to g5, Erigaisi felt that Jumabayev reacted correctly with h6.

“I underestimated h6,” Erigaisi said. Against this, Erigaisi first thought of continuing with his g4-g5 plan, but realized that Black could go Nh7 and then sacrifice the h6-pawn, resulting in a position that was not to his liking.

So the Indian kept improving his position until Jumabayev moved his queen to h4, which Erigaisi considered. But it was what Jumabayev played next – a seemingly innocent move that developed the queenside bishop on the d7-square – that Erigaisi saw as the fatal error.

“He could have put up better resistance with something like Ra7. But with what he played, my attack was just very strong,” Erigaisi said.

Predke again played another entertaining game of attacking chess after surprising his teenage opponent with the Cozio variation of the Ruy Lopez, and the Russian, who had previously played Ruy Lopez’s mainline in the second and fourth rounds as a black , felt satisfied with what he achieved after the opening.

“I guess after 6.c3 d5 Black is fine,” Predke said. After white took d5 and black regained with the queen, the position held a hidden trap, into which young Sharma had fallen.

“Actually, Bb3 and Ng5 are a bad idea,” Predke said of Sharma’s attempt to attack Black’s poorly defended f7-pawn.

The young Indian talent took f7 with his knight, unable to resist the juicy pawn offer which, at first glance, seemed to create problems for Predke’s uncastrated king. But after the quiet Rf8, white found nothing better than to sacrifice the knight for two pawns.

The Russian then launches a counter-attack and wins in just 20 moves.

“I’m happy to have won today,” said Predke, who has now won back-to-back after a third-round draw. “I will try to win more games and see what happens.”

There are five players with five points in joint second place, including Jumabayev. Also with five points was former Dubai Open champion GM Vladimir Akopian of the United States, who played the super strong Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez and settled for a draw after a long fight against resurgent third seed GM Amin Tabatabaei of Iran, whose campaign here was derailed by two draws against much lower rated opponents. With its third draw in the tournament, as well as two wins, Tabatabaei has 4.5 points.

Three Indian grandmasters complete the five-point group: fourth seed Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, who rebounded from a fifth-round loss to Jumabayev by beating GM Shardul Gagare, GM Aravindh Chithambaram, winner of untitled Vaibhav Jayant Raut, and Sahaj Grover, who took down Olympic bronze medalist GM Raunak Sadhwani.

Egyptian general manager Ahmed Adly picked up his second consecutive win by beating Filipino IM Oliver Dimakiling to take his tally to 4.5 points. Moroccan player IM Mohamed Tissir has three points after a draw against India’s Aniruddh Chatterjee, while Yemen’s IM Basheer Al Qudaimi, Qatar’s IM Husain Aziz and Syria’s youth player Rami Talab are all stuck at 2.5 points after losing to Uzbekistan’s Rakhmatullaev Almas, India’s Sanket Chakravarty and India’s FM Sharan Rao, respectively. Raji Sayel Abu Azizah of Palestine also has 2.5 points after a draw with Rahman Md. Taibur of Bangladesh.

Among the Emirati players, IM Omran Al Hosani leads with 3.5 points after a victory over Indian Ishvi Aggarwal. He is followed by Ahmad Al Romaithi, who remains three points after a loss to GM RR Laxman, and Ali Abdulaziz, who is 2.5 points with a win over Jordan’s Kanan Al Namas. IM Saeed Ishaq has two points after beating Dehghan Ibrahim.

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