Rating favourites, defending champion Sethuraman and leader Vidit Gujrathi fought an entertaining 48-move draw in the eighth round of the ONGC National Premier Chess Championship that is taking place at Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu on November 23, 2015.
After the advantage see-sawed a bit, the players drew a double rook ending after 48 moves. Both players started as joint rating favourites with Elo 2651. Vidit leads with six points from eight games in this Rs.10 Lakhs prize money event. Five rounds remain to be played in this 14-player event.
P Karthikeyan closed in on the lead of Vidit Gujrathi with a 55-move victory over P Shyaam Nikil from a Scandinavian defence. Shyaam Nikil developed early and was aggressive. Karthikeyan who did not castle darted his king across the board and it changed from disadvantage to advantage.
Karthikeyan sacrificed a rook for bishop on move 35 to bring life into play and win 18 moves later. Karthikeyan needs a draw with black against Vidit for his GM norm. He had made a norm at Kottayam last year.
M.R. Venkatesh has fully recovered from a poor start. His eighth round win against Dhopade came in 56 moves. Irregular opening phase, a bishop sacrifice by Venkatesh in the middlegame. Dhopade fought back in the middlegame but Venkatesh won the knight ending with an advanced king.
Arghyadip Das had Kunte in a spot for most of the session. But a slip allowing black a tactical shot on move 32 brought white down to defeat. Former National champion Kunte won in 39 moves with black from the Kan variation of the Sicilian defence. It was a costly blow for Arghyadip as he needed two wins for a GM norm.
The results (round eight): S.P. Sethuraman (PSPB) 4 drew with Vidit Gujrathi (PSPB) 6; P Karthikeyan (Rly) 5.5 bt P Shyaam Nikil (TN) 3; M.R. Venkatesh (PSPB) 3.5 bt Swapnil Dhopade (Rly) 4; Arghyadip Das (Rly) 4 lost to Abhijit Kunte (PSPB) 3; Karthikeyan Murali (PSPB) 5 bt K Rathnakaran (Rly) 3; Neelotpal Das (PSPB) 4 drew with K Praneeth Surya (Tel) 4; Deep Sengupta (PSPB) 3 bt M Shyam Sundar (AAI) 4.