With the home-stretch of the National chess championship in sight, three triumphant title-aspirants matched strides with Aravindh Chithambaram for a share of the lead after eight rounds here on Thursday.
In this 13-round competition, Aravindh, G.A. Stany, Vaibhav Suri and Deep Sengupta led at 6.5 points, half-a-point ahead of seven players, including top seed Abhijeet Gupta and veteran Pravin Thipsay.
Barring the top-board encounter, involving Aravindh, the next five boards produced decisive verdicts. Most of these games were well contested and went well into the fifth hour.
Stany needed 54 moves to snap the unbeaten run of Anurag Mhamal, co-leader with Aravindh at the start of the round. Deep expectedly got the better of G.B. Harshavardhan in 73 moves, the same number of moves in which Suri checkmated Swapnil Dhopade. Earlier, after 59 moves, Aravindh could not get more than a draw against Vishnu Prasanna.
Abhijeet scored his second straight victory after stopping Sammed Shete in just 27 moves. Thipsay, at 59, continued his robust campaign for an eighth National title by dismissing the challenge of youngster N.R. Vignesh. Deepan Chakkravarthy, S. Nitin and Tejas Bakre were the others who reached six points by emerging victorious.
In contrast, second seed M. Karthikeyan and sixth seed Sandipan Chanda (five each) were held by Sankalp Gupta and Navin Kanna. However, veteran campaigners, former National champion P. Konguvel and P.D.S. Girinath (4.5 each) suffered their second successive loss after running into the newly-crowned National junior champion Karthik Venkataraman and C.R.G. Krishna (5.5 each).
Leading results (eighth round): Vishnu Prasanna (6) drew with Aravindh Chithambaram (6.5); G.A. Stany (6.5) bt Anurag Mhamal (6); Vaibhav Suri (6.5) bt Swapnil Dhopade (5.5); Deep Sengupta (6.5) bt G.B. Harshavardhan (5.5); Abhijeet Gupta (6) bt Sammed Shete (5.5); Deepan Chakkravarthy (6) bt V.A.V. Rajesh (5); P. Karthikeyan (5.5) drew with Viani Antonio Dcunha (5.5); Pravin Thipsay (6) bt N.R. Vignesh (5); Rahul Srivatshav (5) lost to S. Nitin (6); K. Ratnakaran (5.5) drew with G. Akash (5.5); Ritviz Parab (5) lost to Tejas Bakre (6); Niranjan Navalgund (5.5) drew with Neelotpal Das (5); S. Kidambi (5.5) bt Indrajeet Mahindrakar (5).
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