National Challengers: Dhopade keeps winning; Mary surprises Swayams

An eighth victory took Dhopade’s tally to 8.5 points while his victorious Railway teammate Himanshu moved to 7.5 points. M. R. Lalith Babu, Mary Ann Gomes, S. Satyapragyan and defending champion S. Ravi Teja shared the third spot with seven points.

Woman Grandmaster Mary Ann Gomes plots the downfall of International Master Swayams Mishra in the ninth round of National Challengers chess championship in Ahmedabad on Saturday.   -  RAKESH RAO

The inexperience of two young Gujarat players -- Udit Kamdar and Fenil Shah -- showed up at inopportune times and allowed the Grandmaster duo of Swapnil Dhopade and Himanshu Sharma escape to hard-earned victories in the ninth round of the National Challengers chess championship here on Saturday.

An eighth victory took Dhopade’s tally to 8.5 points while his victorious Railway teammate Himanshu moved to 7.5 points. M. R. Lalith Babu, Mary Ann Gomes, S. Satyapragyan and defending champion S. Ravi Teja shared the third spot with seven points.

Of the lot, Mary was the most impressive winner as she brought down higher-rated International Master Swayams Mishra in 56 moves. Tactically sound, Mary captured a knight on the 33rd move and did not allow her rival any chance of a comeback.

Dhopade, rated 2516 as against Kamdar’s 1947, began as an overwhelming favourite with white pieces. But all credit to his 17-year-old rival from Rajkot to have fought gallantly all the way to the 64 moves.

Kamdar gained the admiration of his rival for playing the opening lines of Carokann well. However, he misread the position in the middle game and went for a full-throttle attack with his two rooks. Dhopade easily warded off the offensive, exploited Kamdar’s weak pawns and pushed one of his two extra pawns to the seventh rank to post an expected victory.

Himanshu also praised Fenil's fighting battles after their 55-move battle. Fenil could have achieved a better position after opting for Sicilian Defence but faltered. The complications made Fenil take more time and that eventually became one of the factors for the youngster’s defeat. In time-pressure, Fenil blundered away a bishop and gave up.

The results:

Ninth round: Udit Kamdar (7) lost to Swapnil Dhopade (8.5); Himanshu Sharma (7.5) bt Fenil Shah (6.5); Debashis Das (6.5) drew with M. R. Lalith Babu (7); Sriram Jha (7) drew with Abhijit Kunte (7); Swayams Mishra (6) lost to Mary Ann Gomes (7); S. Nitin (6.5) drew with Koustav Chatterjee (6.5); E. Arjun (6.5) drew with Arghyadip Das (6.5);

S. Satyapragyan (7) bt Akash Iyer (6); Nikhil Dixit (6) lost to S. Ravi Teja (7); Sammed Shete (6) lost to P. Shyamnikhil (6.5); Aravindh Chithambaram (6.5) bt Chakravarthi Reddy (5.5); S. L. Narayanan (6) drew with Sankalp Gupta (6); Deepan Chakkravarthy (6.5) bt Ram S. Krishnan (5.5); Kaustuv Kundu (5.5) lost to R. R. Laxman (6.5);

Suyog Wagh (6) drew with Hemant Sharma (6); S. Dhananjay (5.5) lost to Niranjan Navalgund (6.5); Padmini Rout (6.5) bt Raja Rithwik (5.5); G. B. Joshi (6) drew with Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (6); S. Jayakumaar (6.5) bt Audi Ameya (5).