It was an interesting round and all the top boards went for blood.... There were no draws, tame or otherwise, from Table 1 to Table 7. More interestingly, all the 5 pointers - GM Arun Prasad, GM Richard Bitoon and GM Alexander Fominyh who were within striking distance of the top leader GM Czebe lost to their respective opponents - Bitoon lost to IM Karthikeyan, Fominyh lost to GM Laxman and Prasad losing to Czebe, and with that, the inevitable has been set. With 1 1/2 points clear of his nearest rival and with only one final round to go, irregardless of what the outcome would be for his game tomorrow, GM Attila Czebe will be crowned as the outright winner of the inaugural Historical Melaka International Chess Championship 2012. It was definitely worth the trip for the Hungarian who is making his first ever visit to Malaysia.
But of all the games in Round 8, the most captivating one would be the match on Table 6 between young Li Tian against GM Adam Horvath of Hungary. It was the last game to finish and in trying to squeeze for a win, Adam sacked his rook for Tian's Bishop and pawn which later resulted in a catastrophic lost for the Hungarian. With 2 passed pawns on the Kingside and with Adam's King unable to retreat after being blocked by Li Tian's Rook on e2, the latter admitted defeat. A sterling performance by Li Tian who now has 5 points and will play FM Hamdani Rudin of Indonesia in the final round on Table 5. A win by Tian would catapult him within the top 5 finishers - definitely a result that many Malaysians would cherish.
For Round 9, GM Czebe will be playing the black pieces against GM Deepan of India whilst on Table 2, GM Laxman playing white will go against countryman IM Karthikeyan - both having 5 1/2 points. On Table 3, GM Bitoon with 5 points will meet GM Alfonso who is half a point in front of him. On Table 5, two 5 pointers - GM Prasad and GM Fominyh will battle it out and similarly, another pair of 5 pointers - Hamdani and Malaysian youngster Li Tian will meet on Table 6.
Pairing for the final Round 9:
Pairing and report for the Challenger section will follow soon.