The top seed was held, there were two significant upsets and three draws on the top five boards as a pack of 15 including Nigel Short and seven Indians crowded the top with two points after the second round of the Kolkata Open chess competition.
Himanshu Sharma shocked defending champion and ninth-seed GM Viktor Laznicka of Czech Republic after 13-year-old Vidit Gujrathi had stunned GM GN Gopal. Neelotpal Das and Reefat Bib Sattar of Bangladesh were the other GMs who lost to lower-ranked opponents, against Arjun Tiwari and Sahaj Grover respectively.
Himanshu defeated Laznicka in 61 moves in a Sicilian Defence. He had a better pawn structure which allowed him to win a pawn and he converted this advantage into a win with a strong display.
Gujrathi recovered after a sluggish start and won a pawn on the 31st move after having consolidated his position. The youngster built on this advantage and finished the game in 51 moves.
Searching for his third and final GM norm, Sriram Jha held top-seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on the top board. Jha opted for the English Opening and guarded fort stoutly to deny the player from Azerbaijan a look at his king.
“I saw no point in preparing for a game against him,” he said. “He has defeated the likes of (Veselin) Topalov and (Vladimir) Kramnik and rarely plays against those rated below 2700. So I decided to play a solid game and let him create openings. I defended well under time pressure to force the draw.