National Championship: Nitin lets Vidit off the hook

After messing up a promising position, S. Nitin blew away his winning chances for the last time, on the 65th move, almost at the stroke of the fifth hour and let top seed Vidit Gujarathi escape with a draw.

S. Nitin, who drew with top seed Vidit Gujarathi during the 54th Mational Premier Chess Championship.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

S. Nitin came close to pulling off a memorable victory over top seed Vidit Gujarathi but didn’t know how to win from a winning position.

After messing up a promising position, Nitin blew away his winning chances for the last time, on the 65th move, almost at the stroke of the fifth hour and let Vidit escape with a draw in 70 moves following perpetual checks in the sixth round of the National chess championship here on Tuesday.

If Vidit was relieved to salvage half a point following some dour defence, second seed B. Adhiban was not so lucky. Third seeded youngster Aravindh Chithambaram thwarted Adhiban’s ambitious plans with some calculated defence and then scripted a very important victory to keep the lead with five points.

The day saw three other decisive results after Sriram Jha added a point to his tally following the withdrawal of Surya Praneeth, owing to an eye-infection. Meanwhile, the organisers have moved the scheduled rest day from Wednesday to Friday.

Nitin, playing white, looked all over Vidit after the 35th move of their Sicilian game. However, Nitin slowly started losing his way. Though Vidit did not defend with moves of optimum strength, he still managed to find a way out of trouble after trading his queen for a knight and rook. Much later, a tiring Nitin erred with a queen-check that enabled Vidit to bring his rook close to his king. Nitin realised his folly and resorted to perpetual checks for take a draw.

Adhiban made his intention clear with white pieces as he castled on the queenside to launch a calculated offensive on Aravindh’s castled king on the opposite side. Aravindh defended well and slowly turned the table in an ending where both players had their rooks. Aravindh had five pawns to Adhiban’s three. But Aravindh’s four connected ‘passed’ pawns on the kingside proved decisive in 38 moves. Commendably, this was Aravindh’s fifth victory, fourth with black pieces!

The unpredictable R. R. Laxman intruded into Abhishek Kelkar’s citadel and forced him to surrender in 42 moves. Laxman managed to claim a rook for a knight on the 36th move. In the endgame, when Laxman’s threatened to clean up Kelkar’s pawns, he gave up.

Tejas Bakre also won with black pieces after outplaying D. B. Chandra Prasad in a materially equal endgame. In this 50-move battle, Prasad resigned when he had to choose between losing a rook for Bakre’s ‘queening’ central pawn and allowing the black queen to return to the board.



Results

Sixth round: S. Nitin (3.5) drew with Vidit Gujarathi (3); M. Karthikeyan (3.5) bt S. Ravi Teja (4); B. Adhiban (3) lost to Aravindh Chithambaram (5); Abhishek Kelkar (1.5) lost to R. R. Laxman (4); D. B. Chandra Prasad (3) lost to Tejas Bakre (3); Surya Praneeth (1) conceded a walkover to Sriram Jha (1.5); Abhijit Kunte (2.5) bye.

Seventh round pairings: Vidit-Prasad; Laxman-Nitin; Kunte-Kelkar; Teja-Adhiban; Jha-Karthikeyan; Chithambaram and Bakre bye.