Lalith Babu, Sasikiran In Joint Lead

Lalith Babu, Sasikiran In Joint Lead
By Arvind Aaron
Top seed Parimarjan Negi (Elo 2671) of Delhi is struggling with two points in the 14-player National Championship that is taking place at Jalgaon in Maharashtra.
The National Premier moved back to the all-play-all format. Second seed Krishnan Sasikiran (Elo 2666) and M.R. Lalith Babu have started well and are maintaining their spree with 5.5 points from six games. Adhiban is closely following the leaders with five points. Seven rounds remain to be played.
Sasikiran had drawn Negi and defeated the rest. Lalith Babu had drawn Vishnu Prasanna and defeated the rest. Sasikiran is playing at 2888 and Lalith Babu is playing at 2886.
Their mutual game and title race will be keenly followed by chess lovers of India. Adhiban and Deepan Chakkaravarthy are not far from joining the title race.
Defending champion G Akash who became an International Master by winning the previous edition at Kolkata is the bottom seed and all players are either International Masters or Grand Masters. There are no untitled players in the fray.
This event runs from December 17-30 and is organised by the Jalgaon District Chess Association and the Jain Sports Academy at the Jain Hills in Jalgaon, Maharashtra.
The Bhavarlal and Kantabai Jain 51st National Premier has a prize purse of Rs.10 lakhs, the highest of all time. In the first 25 years of the event, the first prize was just Rs.500. The profile of the game has been changed since Viswanathan Anand became world champion.
The results (round six): IM Debashis Das 2.5 drew with IM Shyam Nikil P. 2420 2; GM Vishnu Prasanna. V 1.5 lost to IM Rathnakaran K. 2411 2; GM Negi Parimarjan 2 drew with IM Thejkumar M. S. 2452 3.5; IM G. Akash 1 lost to GM Lalith Babu M.R. 2569 5.5; IM Stany G.A. 2 lost to GM Adhiban B. 2569 5; IM Akshat Khamparia 1.5 lost to GM Deepan Chakkravarthy J. 2462 4.5; IM Ashwin Jayaram 3.5 lost to GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2666 5.5.