National C’ship: Aravindh Chithambaram takes National crown

Aravindh Chithambaram ended his unbeaten campaign with 10 points in the 13-round contest.

Mission accomplished: Aravindh Chithambaram lets out a smile after clinching the elusive National title. Photo: Rakesh Rao

After finishing second-best for the last two years, Aravindh Chithambaram broke the jinx and emerged as the National chess champion here on Tuesday.

Aravindh ended his unbeaten campaign with 10 points in the 13-round contest after a nervous 35-move draw against C. R. G. Krishna. In fact, a minimum draw was what the Tamil Nadu youngster needed to ensure the top prize of ₹five lakh.

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Krishna finished runner-up after topping a three-way tie at 9.5 points. Srijit Paul, who stunned Vaibhav Suri, was third while comeback-man M. R. Venkatesh came fourth after scoring 5.5 points from the last six rounds.

Suri, the eventual champion’s nearest challenger, was looking to win white pieces against Paul to tie for the first place but faltered over the last 10 of the 34 moves. The only way possible for the Delhi-boy to clinch the title was by winning the last round, subject to Krishna ending Aravindh’s unbeaten run. But with Suri losing, and finishing sixth, there was no need for the tie-break rules to come into play.

‘Really wanted to win’

Aravindh, the shy boy who lets his moves over the board do the talking, appeared more relieved than happy after ensuring the title. “This title means a lot to me. After all, this is the only time the winner can say, he is the National champion. After missing the title so narrowly the last two times, when I was leading almost throughout, I really wanted to win this time,” said the ONGC employee.

“I wanted to play solid in the last round but there were moments when I was a bit worried,” admitted the fourth seed, armed with a seven-win-six-draw record in the competition.

Two late blunders from G. A. Stany saw Venkatesh win their otherwise-even battle in 57 moves. As a result of this second straight loss, Stany finished 10th after being among the leaders after 11 rounds.

Leading results (13th round)
  • Aravindh Chithambaram (10) drew with C. R. G. Krishna (9.5);
  • Vaibhav Suri (9) lost to Srijit Paul (9.5);
  • Vishnu Prasanna (9) drew with Deep Sengupta (9);
  • M. R. Venkatesh (9.5) bt G. A. Stany (8.5);
  • G. Akash (9) bt Murali Karthikeyan (8);
  • Sandipan Chanda (9) bt P. Shyam Nikhil (8);
  • Tejas Bakre (8.5) drew with Deepan Chakkravarthy (8.5);
  • Karthik Venkatraman (8.5) drew with Neelotpal Das (8.5);
  • Himal Gusain (8.5) drew with N. R. Vignesh (8.5);
  • Niranjan Navalgund (8.5) drew with Anurag Mhamal (8).

Top-10 standings (with prize-money)
  • 1. Aravindh Chithambaram (₹5 lakh),
  • 2. C. R. G. Krishna (₹4 lakh),
  • 3. Srijit Paul (₹3 lakh),
  • 4. M. R. Venkatesh (₹2 lakh),
  • 5. Deep Sengupta (₹1.50 lakh),
  • 6. Vaibhav Suri (₹1 lakh),
  • 7. Vishnu Prasanna (₹1 lakh),
  • 8. G. Akash (₹1 lakh),
  • 9. Sandipan Chanda (₹75,000),
  • 10. G. A. Stany (₹75,000).