Deepan Chakkravarthy pips Swapnil Dhopade to title

Deepan clinched a pawn on the 46th turn and slowly squeezed his advantage to gain victory to win the resultant rook-and-pawn ending in 75 moves.

Deepan exploited the passivity of his rival, edging Dhopade en route to the title.   -  Rakesh Rao

After over five hours of drama and suspense, a determined Deepan Chakkravarthy landed a crushing blow to overnight leader Swapnil Dhopade’s title-aspirations and claimed the honours in the National Challengers chess championship here.

Needing a victory to deny Dhopade a well-deserved title, Deepan came for the 13th round determined to test his rival to the hilt. Sensing that Dhopade was playing for a draw to emerge as champion, Deepan exploited the passivity of his rival. Gradually, Dhopade cracked under sustained pressure.

Deepan clinched a pawn on the 46th turn and slowly squeezed his advantage to gain victory to win the resultant rook-and-pawn ending in 75 moves.

Placed a distant 21st following his eighth-round defeat, Deepan crossed the finish-line with his fifth straight victory, and that too, in style.

“I needed this title desperately since I did not win anything for years. Though I have a National sub-junior title, I have finished second best in four age-group Nationals, besides once in National junior and twice in the National championship. I am really happy to win this prestigious title,” said the 29-year-old champion from Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.

One could not help sparing a thought for Dhopade who never trailed in the event and vacated the top spot only after losing on this day. Dhopade, the 2015 winner, finished runner-up.

Himanshu Kumar’s conquest of Sriram Jha earned him the third spot as he topped the seven-player pack with 9.5 points. In fact, the three podium-finishers represented Railways.

Debasish Das, who drew in just eight minutes with R. R. Laxman on the second board, was fourth. Petroluem’s M. R. Lalith Babu and Abhijit Kunte scored contrasting victories to finish fifth and sixth. Second seed S. L. Narayanan prevailed over Mary Ann Gomes to be seventh while Railwayman S. Nitin emerged as the only non-GM to be among the top-9. Laxman completed the list of qualifiers.

Top seed Aravindh Chithambaram finished 10th after a marathon 100-move draw with Arghyadip Das. He could well make the 14-player field in the National championship should there be any dropout from among the four players, seeded as per their rating.

The results:

13th round: Swapnil Dhopade (10) lost to Deepan Chakkravarthy (10.5); Debashis Das (9.5) drew with R. R. Laxman (9.5); Aravindh Chithambaram (9) drew with Arghyadip Das (9); S. L. Narayanan (9.5) bt Mary Ann Gomes (8.5); M. R. Lalith Babu (9.5) bt Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (8.5); Sriram Jha (8.5) lost to Himanshu Sharma (9.5); Abhijit Kunte (9.5) bt S. Ravi Teja (8.5); S. Nitin (9.5) bt Fenil Shah (8.5).

The nine qualifiers for the National championship: 1. Deepan Chakkravarthy (Railways) (10.5 points), 2. Swapnil Dhopade (Railways) (10), 3. Himanshu Sharma (Railways), 4. Debashis Das (Odisha), 5. M. R. Lalith Babu (Petroleum), 6. Abhijit Kunte (Petroleum), 7. S. L. Narayanan (Kerala), 8. S. Nitin (Railways), 9. R. R. Laxman (Railways) (9.5 each).