National chess championship: Stany stays in lead with five others

Karnataka’s G. A. Stany became country’s 58th GM; International Master norms for Harshavardhan, Niranjan.

G. A. Stany during the ninth-round clash against Aravindh Chithambaram in the National chess championship in Jammu on Friday. The 53-move draw earned Stany his third and final Grandmaster norm and made him the country's 58th Grandmaster.   -  Rakesh Rao

After some anxious moments, Karnataka’s G. A. Stany crossed the final hurdle to become country’s 58th Grandmaster and stayed in the lead with five others following the ninth round of the National chess championship here on Friday.

Even as Anurag Mhamal rejoined the leaders at seven points after upsetting top seed Abhijeet Gupta and Tejas Bakre made it by scoring over Vishnu Prasanna, the spotlight moved to Stany.

Stany, only the second GM from his state, battled all the way to a 53-move draw with fourth seed Aravindh Chithambaram to gain his third and final GM norm. He made his maiden GM norm in the Lucopen tournament in Lille, France, in April 2016 and added a second in the Gujarat GM tournament in October this year.

Having already touched the required rating of 2500 in January 2017, the 25-year-old is now eligible to receive the title of Grandmaster.

Interestingly, Stany’s statemate M. S. Thej Kumar was the last GM of 2017 when he became the 50th on the list. This year, Stany could well be the last of the eight GMs — most in a calendar year for India.

Others who joined the list of GMs this year are Saptarshi Roy, R. Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin, Arjun Erigaisi, Karthik Venkataraman, Harsha Bharathakoti and P. Karthikeyan.

The day also saw G. B. Harshavardhan (6.5) and Niranjan Navalgund gain nine-game International Master norms by exceeding the requirement by half a point. However, Sammed Shete and Ritviz Parab missed it by a similar margin.

Having matched Aravindh move for move for over 40 moves, Stany let his rival press harder for a possible win in the closing stages. On the top board, Deep Sengupta suffered for the better part of his game against Vaibhav Suri during the 53-move deadlock.

With four rounds to go, Suri, Aravindh, Deep, Stany, Mhamal and Tejas formed the leaders’ group, half a point ahead of seven players. Those on 6.5 points included veteran seven-time winner Pravin Thipsay who battled to a 91-move draw with the recently-crowned National junior champion Karthik Venkataraman.

Leading results (ninth round): Deep Sengupta (7) drew with Vaibhav Suri (7); Aravindh Chitambaram (7) drew with G. A. Stany (7); Anurag Mhamal (7) bt Abhijeet Gupta (6); S. Nitin (6.5) drew with Deepan Chakkravarthy (6.5); Tejas Bakre (7) bt Vishnu Prasanna (6); Karthik Venkataraman (6) drew with Pravin Thipsay (6.5); Swapnil Dhopade (6.5) bt Viani Antonio Dcunha (5.5); G. B. Harshavardhan (6.5) bt P. Karthikeyan (5.5); C.R.G. Krishna (6.5) bt V.S. Raahul (5.5); Sammed Shete (6) drew with S. Kidambi (6); G. Akash (6) drew with Niranjan Navalgund (6); Neelotpal Das (6.5) bt K. Ratnakaran (5.5).