Baku: With two victories and a draw, Parimarjan Negi was lying tied third at the end of the third round of the International chess Festival Baku Open 2012 being held to mark the Independence Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Asian champion, Negi, now has 2.5 points, half-a-point behind leaders 20-year-old Azerbaijani Eltaj Safarli (2620), a former World Under-10 champion and Turkish GM Baris Esen (2588).
Negi with 2.5 points is tied with four others, including Rauf Mamedov (2634), Gadir Guseinov (2613), top-seed Ukraine Anton Korobov (2705), Ehsan Maghami Ghaem (2573).
Negi started his campaign somewhat slowly drawing his opening game with white against lowly-rated Azerbaijian's Djakhangir Agaragimov (2343) but then quickly recovered. His next two opponents were also from Azerbaijan, and Negi won comfortably against them.
He beat Misratdin Iskandarov (2380), also from Azerbaijan, with black and then again secured full points against Namig Guliyev with white pieces. His fourth round opponent will be Guseinov, who also has 2.5 points.
Guseinov was a member of the Azerbaijani team that won the gold medal at the European Team Championships in 2009. The team also won the silver in 2011.
In game 3, against Namig Guliyev Negi won in Petroff defence, where the Indian GM had an interesting new idea in the opening. But he had to work hard to make it work. Guliyev was done in by his weak knight as Negi capitalized on it worked his way to a win.
The tournament is being held near the famous Aqua Park near Caspian Sea and carries a purse of USD 50,000 with the winner taking USD10,000.
The tournament runs through to October 1. It is a nine-round Swiss tournament and the winner last year was Belarusian Sergei Zhigalko, who is currently tied eighth with two points from one win and two draws.