Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi suffered a shock defeat at the hands of David Howell of England in the eighth round of the Young grandmasters tournament, a part of the 43rd Biel Chess festival.
Luckless till now, Negi's succumbed to his fourth loss in the category-17 tournament and as a result fell below the 2600 ELO rating mark for the first time this year.
Howell elevated himself to the ninth spot on three points while Negi is now last on just two points. In the final round, Negi will meet top seed Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France.
It turned out to be another tough day in office for young Negi as he misplayed another promising position in the tournament.
Playing the black side of a Sicilian Alapin, all was well in Negi's position in the ensuing middle game and even after the exchange of queens, the experts preferred his position with black pieces.
However as the game progressed, Negi allowed Howell an exchange sacrifice that proved dangerous, the English was soon on top as he wiped out all black pawns on both flanks. The game lasted 52 moves.
Top seeded Maxime scored his second victory in the event at the expense of Maxim Rodshtein of Israel and caught overnight sole leader Fabiano Caruana of Italy in the lead on five points with just one round to come.
Caruana played out a draw with Russian Dmitry Andreikin in his eighth round match. Caruana's was in fact, the lone draw of the day as the battle heated up and the day produced as many as four decisive games out of a possible five.
Anish Giri of Holland coasted to a fine victory against Wesley So of Philippines while Evgeny Tomashevsky of Russia was on the receiving end against Vietnamese Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son.
As a result of this bloodbath after a near lull in the previous round when all the games had ended in draws, Truong Son now shares the third spot with Andreikin while Giri, Tomashevsky, So and Rodshtein are joint fifth on four points apiece. Vachier-Lagrave faced the Grunfeld defense against Rodshtein and employed the fianchetto variation to get a small advantage.
Resourceful as he is, the French invaded the king side after causing many weaknesses and eventually reached a rook and pawns endgame where his passed pawn decided the issue after 54 moves.
Tomashevsky went down to Truong Son who played the black side of an English opening. Exerting pressure on the queen side, Truong Son outplayed the Russian in 45 moves.
Anish Giri also played the English opening and calculated very well in the endgame to beat Wesley So while Caruana played out a draw with Andreikin after 55 moves.