The 47th edition of the National Junior Championship, sponsored by Khadi India, was held at the Patliputra Sports Complex in Patna under the aegis of All Bihar Chess Association. The tournament was an 11-player swiss league with the Open category having 111 players and the girls’ category having 69 players.
The Open also had four International Masters, and five FIDE Masters. The girls’ category had three Women’s International Masters.
The Open began with IM Md. Nubairshah Shaikh as the top seed with a rating of 2410. He suffered a string of upset draws in the middle of the rounds. He had clawed back into contention for a podium finish but suffered a loss in the final round at the hands of Raja Rithvik R (2237). Second seed IM Siddhant Mohapatra (2396) suffered a setback when he was held to a draw from the third to sixth rounds consecutively before he too managed to stage a minor comeback only to lose the final round to IM Krishna Teja N (2359).
Krishna Teja tied for with a bunch of players on 8.0/11 but was the best on tiebreak and took the third place. He lost only one game, which was to FM Karthik Venkataraman (2347) who had scored a GM norm last month.
Karthik on his part won 9 games, drew one in the final round to Shailesh Dravid, and lost only one game to the eventual champion to score 9.5/11, a full point and a half ahead of third place to take the Silver on tiebreak.
Harsha who had also scored 9.5/11, had beaten Karthik and that put him ahead in the head-to-head encounter tiebreak. The champion, IM Harsha Bharathakoti (2394) of Telangana won eight games, drew three and lost none to take the Gold.
In a curious case this year, out of the top five finishes, two were from Telangana and three from Andhra Pradesh. It is safe to bet that the Juniors from these two states will produce the next crop of Grand Masters for India.
In the girls’ category, top seed WIM M. Mahalakshmi (2185) played sedately to secure the gold by a half-point lead over the rest of the field. Even though she lost the penultimate round game to Isha Sharma, Mahalakshmi scored an impressive 9.0/11 to take the first place.
WIM Sakshi Chitalange had lost to Mahalakshmi in the crucial eighth round game and could score 8.5/11 to be second on tiebreak, ahead of Isha Sharma who had also scored 8.5/11 but had to be satisfied with third place.
Positions analysed by GM Srinath Narayanan