Draws on the top 6 boards of the 2016/17 Hastings International either sets up an exciting last round, or potentially a very dull one. The results on the top 2 boards meant the leading group did not change, although it also means that the chasing pack has moved a little closer.
In round 9 GM Deep Sengupta (IND) plays GM Murali Karthikeyan (IND). GM SP Sethuraman plays IM Miklos Galyas (HUN), while GM Allan Stig Rasmussen (DEN) is up against IM R Praggnanandhaa (IND). Sengupta, Karthikeyan, Sethuraman and Rasmussen are all on 6/8, while Galyas and Praggnanandhaa are on 5.5, along with 6 other players. Depending on today's results there could be a single winner on 7 points, or anywhere up to 7 winners on 6.5.
While the top boards saw a couple of short draws, most of the other games were quite hard fought. Praggnanandhaa was again one of the last players to finish, claiming a draw by repetition against IM Gudmundur Kjartansson on move 91, in a 2 knights and pawns v 1 knight and more pawns ending. Fortunately for this arbiter I was able to check on the DGT system, as the positions were each separated by a number of intermediate moves.
Further down English FM Ravi Haria earned his 2nd IM norm with a draw against GM Bogdan Lalic (CRO). He simply has to turn up today to confirm the result. IM Justin Tan won against FM Adam Taylor (ENG) to move to 5/8, but IM Bobby Cheng lost to WGM Nino Maisuradze (FRA), who can now score an IM norm if she beats GM Lalic in the final round.