Khadi India National Premier 04: The King Walk(s)!

Report by R. Anantharam

GM MR Lalith Babu of PSPB and GM SL Narayanan shared the lead with 3 points each at the end of the fourth round of the Khadi India 55th National Premier Chess Championship, organised by All Bihar Chess Association at Lemontree Hotel, Patna, today. The Tamil Nadu grandmasters Aravindh Chithambaram and Karthikeyan Murali are trailing behind the players by half a point. Apart from the above four players, Railways’ GM Swapnil Dhopade was also on the winning side today, marking the most number of wins in the tournament in a single day so far.

Playing Black, Grandmaster MR Lalith Babu made a Wei Yi like king walk and ran away with a scintillating win over GM Debashis Das in the Karpov variation of Nimzo Indian defence game. Lalith Babu’s king travelled from e1 to h4 but retreated successfully and gave back one of his minor pieces, to consolidate the win in just 29 moves.

Speaking to IA Dharmendra Kumar about the game, Lalith Babu said, “I think everyone knows this theory. The king hunt was already mentioned in a book. If you don’t know the theory, it is very difficult to play over the board and I knew exactly up to 25-26 moves. During the game, Debashis forgot and he was just trying to remember and I think on the 20th move he played Qe3, which is a mistake. Over the board, I think he messed up with his preparation and then I was winning with g5.”

Deepan wanted to exchange the dark coloured bishop on the 18th Bg5 move against Karthikeyan hoping to bring his queen into kingside attack. The move backfired as Karthikeyan attacked back with f4. Deepan’s counter-attack, opening the castled kingside failed, resulting in the mopping up his entire kingside pawns in a span of nine moves. Deepan could not sustain the pressure and resigned on 41st move when Karthikeyan’s e-pawn made a steady march to the eighth rank.

RR Laxman, working for ICF of Railways heaved a sigh, when he recorded the much-needed win over Maharashtra’s Sammed Jaykumar Shette, the lowest rated player in the tournament, after a series of incorrect moves from both players. Sammed’s Ra5 to attack Laxman’s doubled pawns proved to be futile. In a totally winning position, Laxman too made a weak move to bring the game back to equality. At one point, he was maybe even lost.

Like Lalith Babu, Laxman had another king walk from g1 to e8, even in the presence of queen and rook for both players. When the queens were exchanged on the 56th move, Sammed had no other choice than to resign after two more moves.

After the game, Laxman commented, “I played the white side of a double fianchetto. I got a stable advantage in the opening and it was a long-lasting edge in the middlegame also. It soon liquidated into a good ending and at that moment I made a blunder which changed the course of the game. It was a very crazy game after that. It was highly double-edged with a minus position for me. I came back into the game after few good moves and then I was able to convert my advantage into a win. I’m not a guy who makes such simple blunders and I couldn’t believe even now that I won.”

In the Scotch game between SL Narayanan and Arghyadip Das, the queens were exchanged after 29 moves.  With both having two rooks and six pawns, Narayanan had a superior pawn structure in the middle game. By exchanging a rook, Narayanan was left with a king, rook and a pawn to that of king and rook of Arghyadip. When Narayanan’s king was well ahead to protect his pawn for a safe travel to the furthest rank, Arghyadip accepted his defeat in 66 moves.

IM P. Shyaamnikhil of Railways did not handle the Modern defence properly against his teammate and runner up in National Challengers GM Swapnil Dhopade and paid for the penalty in 57 moves. His improper piece placements, aggravated by the superior opening preparation of Swapnil, facilitated Swapnil’s pieces into hyperactivity. Though both queened their pawns, Swapnil’s agile queen and rook helped him to post a win comfortably.

The knight ending evolving from Reti opening between former national champion Abhijit Kunte and GM Aravindh Chithambaram, the youngest Indian to win a GM tournament was a 40 move truce.

Railway teammates GM Himanshu Sharma and S Nitin had quick 25 moves draw before which they cannot agree as per the regulations.

Round 4 on 2017/10/31 at 10:00 AM
Bo. No. Rtg Name Result Name Rtg No.
1 14 2516 GM Swapnil S. Dhopade 1 – 0 IM Shyaamnikhil P 2422 9
2 10 2510 GM Himanshu Sharma ½ – ½ IM Nitin S. 2415 8
3 11 2494 GM Debashis Das 0 – 1 GM Lalith Babu M R 2525 7
4 12 2434 IM Das Arghyadip 0 – 1 GM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan 2568 6
5 13 2578 GM Karthikeyan Murali 1 – 0 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. 2477 5
6 1 2392 GM Laxman R.R. 1 – 0 Sammed Jaykumar Shete 2310 4
7 2 2503 GM Kunte Abhijit ½ – ½ GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2573 3
Round 5 on 2017/11/01 at 10:00 AM
Bo. No. Rtg Name Result Name Rtg No.
1 3 2573 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. GM Swapnil S. Dhopade 2516 14
2 4 2310 Sammed Jaykumar Shete GM Kunte Abhijit 2503 2
3 5 2477 GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. GM Laxman R.R. 2392 1
4 6 2568 GM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan GM Karthikeyan Murali 2578 13
5 7 2525 GM Lalith Babu M R IM Das Arghyadip 2434 12
6 8 2415 IM Nitin S. GM Debashis Das 2494 11
7 9 2422 IM Shyaamnikhil P GM Himanshu Sharma 2510 10