National Challengers: Swapnil Dhopade scores seventh win; Deepan falls to Fenil

A seventh victory took Dhopade’s tally to 7.5 points and kept him one clear of M. R. Lalith Babu, Fenil Shah, Himanshu Sharma and Udit Kamdar.

Local talent Fenil Shah is all concentration on his way to a hard-earned victory over Madurai-based Grandmaster Deepan Chakkravarthy in the National Challengers chess championship in Ahmedabad on Friday.   -  Rakesh Rao

Riding a high, Swapnil Dhopade got second seed S. L. Narayanan out of the way with a resounding 35-move victory to maintain his one-point lead following the eighth round of National Challengers chess championship here on Friday.

A seventh victory took Dhopade’s tally to 7.5 points and kept him one clear of M. R. Lalith Babu, Fenil Shah, Himanshu Sharma and Udit Kamdar.

Dhopade sacrificed a knight to break open Narayan’s kingside castle and later, following a tactical shot, claimed the black rook for a bishop. Narayanan, growing increasingly desperate, tried to get some counter-play going by sacrificing a knight but Dhopade was not to be denied on this day.

Meanwhile, Grandmasters N. Srinath and Tejas Bakre, seeded four and 11, withdrew from the event citing health issues. Srinath’s pullout brought Kamdar an unexpected point.

Lalith gained victory after joint overnight leader Himanshu declined a draw-offer on the 33rd turn and messed up his position. Lalith seized the opportunity and came within a move of delivering a checkmate when Himanshu resigned on the 41st move.

Local boy Fenil Shah produced a gritty performance to beat Madurai-GM Deepan Chakkravarthy in the day’s last game to finish. At one stage, Deepan was pressing for victory in an equal position but he ambitiously went for a kingside pawn and got his rook ‘trapped’ on the 57th move. Left with no choice, Deepan traded his rook for a bishop.

Thereafter, Fenil went for the ‘kill’ and won in 75 moves.

The results:

Eighth round: Swapnil Dhopade (7.5) bt S. L. Narayanan (5.5); M. R. Lalith Babu (6.5) bt Himanshu Sharma (6.5); Abhijit Kunte (6) drew with Swayams Mishra (6); Mary Ann Gomes (6) drew with Debashis Das (6); Fenil Shah (6.5) bt Deepan Chakkravarthy (5.5); Arghyadip Das (6) drew with Akash Iyer (6); S. Ravi Teja (6) drew with Sammed Shete (6); Udit Kamdar (6.5) received a walkover from N. Srinath (5); Sankalp Gupta (5.5) drew with Aravindh Chithambaram (5.5); P. Shyamnikhil (5.5) drew with Suyog Wagh (5.5); Arjun Tiwari (5) lost to S. Nitin (6); N. Lokesh (5) lost to S. Satyapragyan (6); R. R. Laxman (5.5) drew with S. Dhananjay (5.5); Koustav Chatterjee (6) bt C. R. G. Krishna (5); M. R. Sooraj (5) lost to Sriram Jha (6); Hemant Sharma (5.5) drew with G. B. Joshi (5.5); Rupesh Kant (5) lost to E. Arjun (6); Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (5.5) drew with S. Jayakumaar (5.5); Ankit Gajwa (5) lost to Nikhil Dixit (6); Niranjan Navalgund (5.5) bt K. Jennita Anto (5).