The three top seeds at the 2011 Thai Chess Open in Pattaya are tied for the lead with just one round to play, setting the stage for an exciting finish in the strongest tournament ever held in Thailand.
After top seed Paco Vallejo of Spain was held to a draw by German third seed Jan Gustafsson, Nigel Short of England took the opportunity to regain a share of the lead with a comfortable victory over Indian Grandmaster Jha Sriram.
Gustafsson, who memorably beat Short in the seventh round, bravely sacrificed two pawns against the top seed on Saturday, but Vallejo could find nothing better than returning the material with a drawn endgame. “You should have watched my DVD – that’s where I proposed [the new 14th move that I played],” Gustafsson said to his opponent after the game. “Yes, I will download it,” Vallejo replied.
The final round, which begins early Sunday at 9am, will see the top three Grandmasters facing significantly lower ranked opposition, so a three-way tie for the 100,000 Baht first prize is certainly a possibility. However lower ranked players have caused so many upsets in this event that the elite Grandmasters will be taking nothing for granted.
= 1 Vallejo, Short, Gustafsson 6.5
= 4 Kunte, Stokke, Murshed, Voigt, Yang, Willemze, Illner, Mariano 6
The Thai Open, with a prize fund of 500,000 Baht, is being played at the Dusit Thani Pattaya Resort.