Laxman, Kidambi held; easy wins for Karthikeyan, Aravindh

72 of the 80 boards witnessed decisive battles in the opening round of the National chess championship in Jammu on Saturday.

Two-time champion M. Karthikeyan cruised to an easy win in the first round of the National chess championship in Jammu on Saturday.   -  Rakesh Rao

Over the board, the flamboyance of R.R. Laxman stands out in stark contrast to the sedate ways of S. Kidambi. But on Saturday, when surprises were at a premium, the two Chennai-based Grandmasters found themselves on the same page after being held by lesser-rated rivals in the opening round of the National chess championship here.

When 72 of the 80 boards witnessed decisive battles, fast-playing Laxman got off to a slow start following a 36-move draw against local hope Sumit Grover, rated 505 points below. Likewise, Kidambi could not make the most of his rating superiority of 489 points against Bengal’s Sarbojit Paul and drew in 31 moves.

The results (first round):
Priyanka Kumari lost to Abhijeet Gupta; M. Karthikeyan bt Atharva Jaeel; Rahul Gurung lost to Vaibhav Suri; Aravindh Chithambaram bt Ashutosh Kumar; Soham Kamotra lost to Deep Sengupta; Sandipan Chanda bt Kishan Gangoli; Soram Rahul Singh lost to Deepan Chakkravarthy; M. R. Venkatesh bt Shashi Pal Sharma; Shahil Dey lost to Karthik Venkataraman; Vishnu Prasanna bt Kishan Soni; Arpan Das drew with Harsha Bharathakoti; Sarobojit Paul drew with S. Kidambi; Sumit Grover drew with R. R. Laxman; Sai Karthik lost to Pravin Thipsay; Ankit Chudasma drew with Navin Kanna; Ashutosh Jamwal
bt Rahul Shetty; Lalrinmawia bt Kiran Manisha Mohanty.

GM in-waiting Harsha Bharathakoti, too, was surprisingly held by Bengal’s Arpan Das before veteran GM Pravin Thipsay, a seven-time champion, drew from his vast experience to overcome Telangana-youngster Sai Karthik in a marathon lasting over five hours.

Among the seeds led by Abhijeet Gupta, second seed and two-time winner M. Karthikeyan scored a comfortable win over Atharva Jaeel in 41 moves. Fourth-seed Aravindh Chithambaram was the quickest to win among the title-aspirants after vanquishing Ashuthosh Kumar in just 30 moves.

In contrast, fifth seed Deep Sengupta took 76 moves to stop local Soham Kamotra in a rook-versus-bishop ending.

Least-rated International Master, at 2159, Rahul Shetty proved too rusty against Ashutosh Jamwal and lost while the lone woman Grandmaster Kiran Manisha Mohanty, rated 2144, was upstaged by Mizoram’s Lalrinmawia, rated a distant 1404!

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