Khadi India National Premier Rd 10: M.R. Lalith Babu steals the show

Report by IA Prof. R. Anantharam

The PSPB grandmaster MR Lalith Babu from Andhra Pradesh came through with flying colours to lead the pack with seven points at the end of the tenth round of the Khadi India National Premier Chess Championship, organised by All Bihar Chess Association at Lemon Tree Hotel, Patna today. When the co-leader Arvaindh Chithambaram and the three players on the second spot drew their respective games and with only three rounds remaining in the tournament, Lalith Babu realised that his win against low rated Sammed Shete of Maharashtra would put him in an enviable position. He also achieved it without much ado. Aravindh is the lone player with 6.5 points on the second position.

The Caro Kann defence employed by Lalith Babu had no hiccups until move 37, by which time the queens and many pieces were exchanged. Though Lalith had four pawns, all were individual islands compared to three connected pawns of Sammed at the centre. The rejuvenated Lalith’s extra drive, in combo with a weak 42nd move by Sammed, resulted in the loss of a knight and a bishop to Sammed against a rook for Lalith. The rest was routine. The debutant Sammed had an ignominious five losses in a row.

RR Laxman of Railways handled the Slav defence adopted by his team mate Himanshu Sharma comfortably and confidently. After exchanging the queen on 29th move, the loss of a pawn after nine more moves was inevitable to Himanshu. To prevent Laxman’s centre passer pawn moving to the last rank, Himnashu had to lose another pawn. When Himanshu had the choice of either losing his bishop or resignation, he preferred the latter.

Railways international master S. Nitin chose the Fischer Sozin attack of the Najdorf variation in Sicilian defence against the joint leader Aravindh. Najdorf variation is the favourite one played in this tournament, as well as that of Boris Gelfand, the World championship finalist against Vishy Anand in 2012. After opening up the king side in the early part of the game, Aravindh castled on the queen side. The rooks and pawns ending had no other choice than a draw. Immediately after Aravindh finished the game, his team mate Karthikeyan followed him out of the hall with an agreed draw with Odisha’s grandmaster Debashis Das. Though Karthikeyan had a rook in lieu of Debashis’ knight in the end game, the latter forced a draw by repeated checks with his queen to the exposed king of Karthikeyan.

The Scotch game was played for the first time in the ten rounds of the tournament so far, between the in-form players GM Deepan Chakkravarthy of Railways and Kerala grandmaster SL Narayanan. After two successive wins, Deepan might have had the inclination to settle for a draw against a higher rated player, which was obvious from his moves. Though it was a same colour bishop and rook ending, both obtained half point each from the game after 38 moves.

The Catalan opening by Railways grandmaster Swapnil Dhopade with another Railway player IM Arghyadip Das failed to bring out any positive result. With both players reluctant to indulge in severe attack, the bishop vs knight ending was a 60 move peace treaty.

In the Fianchetto variation of the Grunfeld defence, international master P. Shyaamnikhil of Railways held former national champion GM Abhijit Kunte of PSPB in 59 moves. Though it was a four pawns and same colour bishop ending, both kings could not penetrate the defence to gain entry into the opposite half of the board.

Round 10 on 2017/11/07 at 10:00 AM
Bo. No. Rtg Name Result Name Rtg No.
1 14 2516 GM Swapnil S. Dhopade ½ – ½ IM Das Arghyadip 2434 12
2 13 2578 GM Karthikeyan Murali ½ – ½ GM Debashis Das 2494 11
3 1 2392 GM Laxman R.R. 1 – 0 GM Himanshu Sharma 2510 10
4 2 2503 GM Kunte Abhijit ½ – ½ IM Shyaamnikhil P 2422 9
5 3 2573 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. ½ – ½ IM Nitin S. 2415 8
6 4 2310 Sammed Jaykumar Shete 0 – 1 GM Lalith Babu M R 2525 7
7 5 2477 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. ½ – ½ GM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan 2568 6
Round 11 on 2017/11/08 at 10:00 AM
Bo. No. Rtg Name Result Name Rtg No.
1 6 2568 GM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan GM Swapnil S. Dhopade 2516 14
2 7 2525 GM Lalith Babu M R GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. 2477 5
3 8 2415 IM Nitin S. Sammed Jaykumar Shete 2310 4
4 9 2422 IM Shyaamnikhil P GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2573 3
5 10 2510 GM Himanshu Sharma GM Kunte Abhijit 2503 2
6 11 2494 GM Debashis Das GM Laxman R.R. 2392 1
7 12 2434 IM Das Arghyadip GM Karthikeyan Murali 2578 13