Gibraltar:Indian Grandmasters Koneru Humpy, Sandipan Chanda and G N Gopal scored impressive victories to emerge joint leaders after the fourth round in the Gibtelecom Masters chess tournament.
The Indian trio now share the lead with French GMs Etienne Bacrot, Laurent Fressinet and Romain Edouard, Michael Adams of England, Germans Daniel Fridman and Jan Gustafsson and Ruben Felgaer of Argentina.
Three other Indians - International Masters D Harika, Eesha Karavade and V Saravanan -- also won their respective games against lower rated opponents.
The lone Indian to lose in the fourth round was Kruttika Nadig, going down to veteran English Grandmaster Jon Speelman while Tania Sachdev was held to a draw by Norwegian Vegar Koi Gandrud.
Humpy defeated Grandmaster Michael Hoffman of Germany in a fine attacking game with white pieces. The Indian faced the Benoni defense and sacrificed two pieces for a rook in the middle game to knock down all black king side pawns.
After exchange of queens, Humpy's pawn rolled on the king side and there was no defense for Hoffman who called it a day on his 49th turn.
If Humpy was at her attacking best, Sandipan gave a technical lesson to another German GM Falko Bindrich.
The Nimzo Indian defense by Bindrich yielded little in the middle game and after Sandipan won a pawn to reach rooks and opposite coloured Bishops endgame, many believed that the game would be a draw.
However, Sandipan had other ideas as he came up with strong moves in the endgame to leave the black king in a spot of bother. Eventually it was checkmate on the 59th move.
Gopal faced the Sicilian Taimanov from Lela Javakhishvili of Georgia and employed one of the topical variations. Lela pieces were underdeveloped for the major part of the middle game which prompted her to sacrifice a rook for minor piece.
The ensuing endgame might have had some technical difficulties but Gopal was a man on mission and gave no chances. Winning another rook for minor piece, Gopal won in 52 moves.
At the top of the table, Fressinet played out a draw with Adams while Francisco Vallejo Pons could not break the defenses of Gustafsson leaving a half point blown away from the tournament table in the fourth round itself as there are no leader with a perfect score.
With six rounds still to go in the 96000 Pound Sterling tournament, the battle is only likely to heat up.