Report by IA Prof. R. Anantharam/Featured Photo by Amruta Mokal
PSPB grandmaster Lalith Babu, scoring nine points, was crowned as the undisputed National Premier Chess Champion, thanks to Odisha’s grandmaster Debashis Das, who defeated the only other title seeker Aravindh Chithambaram of Tamil Nadu in the Khadi India National Premier Chess Championship, organised by All Bihar Chess Association at Lemon Tree Hotel, Patna today. Irrespective of the loss, Aravindh scored 8.5 points to remain status quo in ranking – the runner-up spot he secured by losing the final round to RR Laxman in 2016. Defending champion Karthikeyan could muster only the third position with 7.5 points. Debashis and SL Narayanan of Kerala were placed fourth and fifth with the same number of points.
Aravindh’s preference of Kings Indian defence was not beneficial to him, as Debashis attained a good positional advantage on 12th move itself. To add to the woes, Aravindh’s bad move of Ne5 on 18th move, for which he consumed just 18 seconds, gifted a winning position to his opponent. When Debashis’ c6- pawn attacked Aravindh’s bishop, the latter’s ploy of attacking the queen not only failed miserably, but also proved to be fatal. Debashis demolished Aravindh in just 28 moves.
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In an equal position arising out of the Catalan opening, Lalith Babu surprised everybody by allowing GM Swapnil Dhopade to repeat the moves and get away with a draw claim in just 14 moves, shortest in terms of both moves and time. Later, the much relieved and elated Lalith Babu admitted that the pressure on him was too much and he boldly took the risk of splitting the point.
The splendid performance of Railways international master Arghyadip Das took a back seat in the final round when he lost to former national champion Abhijit Kunte of PSPB. After castling on the queenside, Arghyadip gave up his bishop for a compensation of three pawns. His another knight sacrifice was unwarranted and Abhijit won in a relaxed manner with plenty of pieces in his kitty.
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SL Narayanan of Kerala got the better of S Nitin of Railways in the Rubinstein variation of four knights game in 55 moves. Until move 41, the game predicted a draw. The course of the game changed, once Narayanan combined his queen and knight to make an assault on Nitin’s king. Failing to safeguard his knight and king, Nitin resigned.
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In the clash between the tail-enders GM Himanshu Sharma of Railways and Sammed Shete of Maharashtra, Himanshu brought a halt to his dry spell, with a long-awaited first win in the tournament. In the Fianchetto variation of Grunfeld defence, Himanshu was in his elements during a series of exchanges in the middle game, finally fetching him an extra minor piece. Sammed resigned on the 47th move.
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Defending champion Karthikeyan Murali of Tamil Nadu underperformed in the second half of the tournament and the final round was no exception. He conceded a draw to the national blitz champion RR Laxman of Railways in a Reti opening game in mere 30 moves, without any fight. In an English opening, Railways teammates International master P. Shyaamnikhil and GM Deepan Chakkravarthy quickly settled for a draw in 26 moves. Though White had a slightly better position, Shyaam could not convert it to a winning advantage.
Honourable Shri. Ajay Kumar Tripathy, Justice, Patna High Court was the chief guest and Shri. Bharat Singh Chauhan, Hon, Secretary, All India Chess Federation, former national champions GM Dibyendu Barua and GM Pravin Thipsay were the guest of honours, together with the president of the Organising Committee Sri. RR. Laxmanan, Sri. Rakesh Prasad, General Manager of NTPC, and Ms. Sangita Kumari, Regional Director of Khadi India.
Final Ranking crosstable after 13 Rounds
|1||GM||Lalith Babu M R||2525||IND||*||1||0||1||1||1||½||½||1||½||½||½||1||½||9,0||0,0||57,75||6,0|
|2||GM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.||2573||IND||0||*||½||0||1||½||½||½||1||½||1||1||1||1||8,5||0,0||49,00||6,0|
|5||GM||Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan||2568||IND||0||0||½||½||*||1||1||½||½||½||½||½||1||1||7,5||1,0||43,50||4,0|
|10||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||2477||IND||½||½||0||½||½||0||0||½||0||*||1||½||1||1||6,0||1,0||35,00||3,0|
|11||GM||Swapnil S. Dhopade||2516||IND||½||0||½||½||½||0||½||½||½||0||*||1||1||½||6,0||0,0||36,25||2,0|
|13||Sammed Jaykumar Shete||2310||IND||0||0||½||½||0||½||½||1||0||0||0||1||*||0||4,0||0,0||26,00||2,0|