India's Surya Shekhar Ganguly (left) and Venezuela's Eduardo Iturrizaga slug it out in round eight's top-board match-up. Iturrizaga won the game. Image Credit: Supplied

• Erstwhile solo leader Surya Shekhar Ganguly of India still shares first place with 6.5 points despite loss to former champion Eduardo Iturrizaga of Venezuela

Iturrizaga, Egypt’s Ahmed Adly, India’s S. P. Sethuraman and Argentina’s Diego Flores also have 6.5 points 

Defending champion Gawain Jones of the UK trails half a point adrift

Dubai: Former champion Grandmaster (GM) Eduardo Iturrizaga of Venezuela and four others are in the driver’s seat heading into the final round despite contrasting results in Monday night’s penultimate eighth round of the 20th Dubai Open Chess Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

Iturrizaga, who was the tournament’s champion in 2010, scored the biggest win of the round when he took down India’s GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly, who had been the solo leader since the sixth round.

The win allowed Iturrizaga to catch up with Ganguly at the top of the standings with 6.5 points each.

Other grandmasters with the same score are GM S. P. Sethuraman of India, GM Diego Flores of Argentina and GM Ahmed Adly of Egypt.

Ganguly, who zoomed to the top of the standings with a string of three straight wins, including one over top-seed GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko of Ukraine, failed to crack the Venezuelan’s solid Caro-Kann Defence and instead found himself under pressure of losing material when Iturrizaga’s major pieces ganged up on his precariously placed d4-pawn.

Ganguly decided to push the pawn two more squares deep into Iturrizaga’s territory in an attempt to create weaknesses in the black camp, but precise play by the Venezuelan forced Ganguly to give up the pawn and drop more material a few moves later.

Iturrizaga wrapped up the point on the 39th move.

Sethuraman defeated GM Alexander Zubov of Ukraine, while Adly outplayed GM Emre Can of Turkey and Flores won over GM Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran.

Jones half a point behind

Defending champion Gawain Jones, Kryvoruchko and GM Vladislav Kovalev of Bulgaria are chasing the leaders half a point behind with six points each.

The crucial match-ups that will decide the championship in Tuesday night’s final round will feature Iturrizaga against Adly, Ganguly versus Flores and Sethuraman facing Jones.

$50,000 pot

The awarding ceremony of the tournament will be held Wednesday night with a total of $50,000 to be awarded to the winners, and $10,000 and the Shaikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Cup going to the champion.

More than 160 players from over 30 countries are taking part in the tournament.

The games are broadcast live on the club’s website (www.dubaichess.ae) and Facebook page, as well as other popular chess portals.