John Veny thrilled on winning maiden National under-14 chess title

John began as the 13th seed and came up with a fine performance to score over higher seeds, beating second seed Mohammad Imran, fourth seed Daakshin Arun and fifth seed Mayank Chakraborty.

This is the maiden National title for the 13-year-old from Kozhikode, who had become the runner-up at the National Under-9 championship in 2017.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Kerala is no longer the underperformer in chess it was for a long time. The State now has two players in India’s top 10 -- Nihal Sarin and S. L. Narayanan. The last one month saw two Kerala boys claiming National titles.

That is something the State is not very used to – producing National champions in succession. After Gowtham Krishna lifted the National Under-12 championship at Mandya last month, John Veny Akkarakaran won the National Under-14 championship at Ahmedabad on Saturday.

John began as the 13th seed and came up with a fine performance to score over higher seeds. He posted victories over second seed Mohammad Imran, fourth seed Daakshin Arun, fifth seed Mayank Chakraborty and seventh seed Sumer  Arsh Shaik.

His only defeat came at the hands of top seed Om Kadam. He finished the tournament with nine points from 11 rounds.

His last game, with Abhash Saikya, ended in a draw and that saw him tying for the top spot with Gaurang Bagwe, but a better tie-break score gave him the title.

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“Fortunately, two other results in the final round favoured me,” says John. “A win for me against Abhash would have made me the champion regardless of what happened in the other games, but my game came to a drawish end.”

This is the maiden National title for the 13-year-old from Kozhikode. In 2017, he had become the runner-up at the National Under-9 championship.

John, who is coached by Mari Arul, now is looking forward to the World Under-14 championship to be held in Romania in September. “I want to do well in it,” he says. “I also want to get the International Master title; I plan to play in open tournaments, from which I could try to get the norms for that.”

He says age-group chess is pretty competitive in Kerala at the moment. “Gowtham is a very good player,” he says. “And there are a few other boys and girls who are fairly strong.”

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