National Challengers: Interesting battles on the lower boards

Overnight leader S. Ravi Teja stayed ahead of the pack following a 21-move peace treaty with S. Nitin while taking his tally to 7.5 points from nine rounds.

A file picture of S. L. Narayanan. The teenaged GM from Kerala outwitted Ramnath Bhuvanesh in 65 moves of Sicilian Defence.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

The battle for the nine qualifying spots to the National championship warmed up following some well-fought battles featuring those keen to make amends for poor starts in the Amity National Challengers chess championship here on Friday.

After overnight leader S. Ravi Teja stayed ahead of the pack following a 21-move peace treaty with S. Nitin while taking his tally to 7.5points from nine rounds, there were some very interesting battles on the lower boards.

As a result, with four rounds to go, second seed S. L. Narayanan and former champion Sriram Jha followed the leader with seven points. Significantly, 15 players shared the third spot at 6.5 points.

Narayanan, the ever-so-steady teenaged Grandmaster from Kerala, outwitted Ramnath Bhuvanesh in 65 moves of Sicilian Defence. Narayanan won a pawn on the 21st move and held the advantage through the rook-and-pawn endgame.

Jha, playing black, proved his superiority over youngster Sai Vishwesh in 65 moves following the opening lines of Ruy Lopez. Once Sai underestimated the threat on the 30th move and left Jha better off following a series of exchanges, the outcome was never in doubt. Jha claimed a rook after letting Sai capture a bishop and soon grabbed the lone knight while threatening checkmate. At this stage, Sai gave up.

In the games that produced unexpected results, Hemal Thanki, rated at a modest 2167, stunned GM Shardul Gagare (2486) and Utkal Ranjan Sahoo toppled sixth seeded International Master N. Srinath.

Top-seeded youngster Aravindh Chithambaram stayed firmly on the comeback course by reaching six points after beating former champion Suvrajit Saha.

Leading results:

Ninth round: S. Nitin (6.5) drew with S. Ravi Teja (7.5); Ramnath Bhuvanesh (6) lost to S. L. Narayanan (7); Chandra Prasad (6.5) drew with Tejas Bakre (6.5); C. Sai Vishwesh (6) lost to Sriram Jha (7); Mary Ann Gomes (6.5) drew with R. R. Laxman (6.5); Sidhant Mohapatra (6.5) drew with Abhishek Kelkar (6.5); V. A. V. Rajesh (6.5) drew with Vikramaditya Kulkarni (6.5); Abhijit Kunte (6.5) bt Arjun Tiwari (6); Hemal Thanki (6.5) bt Shardul Gagare (5.5); Himal Gusain (6.5) bt Chandrashekhar Gokhale (5.5); Surya Praneeth (6.5) bt Tarini Goyal (5.5); Baivab Mishra (6) drew with B. Harsha (6); Sumit Grover (5.5) lost to Neeraj Kumar Mishra (6.5); N. Srinath (5) lost to Utkal Ranjan Sahoo (6.5); Suvrajit Saha (5) lost to Aravindh Chithambaram (6); Abhilash Reddy (5) lost to Vishnu Prasanna (6).