National Challengers: Narayanan stretched, Gurung holds Akash

The futility of reducing the status of Amity University National Challengers chess championship to a 'non-rated' remained the talking point among the players even as some of the leading players were stretched in the opening round on Saturday.

S. L. Narayanan, the second seed, needed 72 moves to defeat Nagaland’s Melesayi Dawhuo.   -  Stan Rayan

The futility of reducing the status of Amity University National Challengers chess championship to a 'non-rated' remained the talking point among the players even as some of the leading players were stretched in the opening round here on Saturday.

In an encouraging development, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) CEO Bharat Singh Chauhan graciously admitted it was a move that has not served the purpose.

> Read: AICF's decision invites lukewarm response

“There is nothing wrong in experimenting but the AICF will surely revise the decision. The fact that the number of Grandmasters participating is less than what we saw last year, proves that the purpose was not achieved,” he said.

In fact, Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury withdrew late and brought down the number of participating GMs down to just eight.

GM Abhijit Kunte, playing in an unrated event in more than 20 years, wondered who stood to benefit from this move. “Can the AICF identify those GMs who offered to play this event should it be made unrated? When rating points are not at stake, the intensity is clearly not the same. But we players have no choice but to play.”

Over the board, second seed S. L. Narayanan lost the plot under time pressure and needed 72 moves, spread over four and a half hours, to overcome Nagaland’s Melesayi Dawhuo, who carried his mobile phone to the table, much against the rules governing the sport.

Two other seasoned Grandmasters, Sriram Jha and Tejas Bakre too were stretched by their rivals. G. Akash, National champion in 2012, was held by Sikkim’s Rohit Gurung in the sixth hour.

Veteran IM Neeraj Kumar Mishra escaped with a draw against Punjab’s youngster Apoorv Anand while another IM, Anup Deshmukh who was once part of the Indian Olympiad team, was locked in a drawn endgame with UP girl Sanskriti Goyal.

In two other surprising results, Kerala’s A. Harikrishnan drew with IM Rahul Shetty and UP’s Vipin Shami trapped Arjun Tiwari in a checkmating net.

Leading results:

First round: Madhab Sarma lost to Aravindh Chithambaram, S. L. Narayanan bt Melesayi Dawhuo; Wazeer Ahmad lost to Vishnu Prasanna; Abhijit Kunte bt Cheniram Pegu; Naveen Bansal lost to Shardul Gagare; N. Srinath bt Utsad Chatterjee; Naitik Mehta lost to Tejas Bakre; Himal Gusain bt Saurav Roop; V. Rajith lost to Sriram Jha; Surya Praneeth bt Himanshu Harsh; Rohit Gurung drew with G. Akash; S. Nitin bt Vatsal Singhania; Leth Mithawala lost to R. R. Laxman; S. Ravi Teja bt Ganesh Tajane; Akshit Kumar lost to Abhishek Kelkar.