All it took was 14 moves in quick time for S. P. Sethuraman, against Mitrabha Guha, to get the draw needed to regain the National chess title after nine years here on Saturday.
Determined to win the title after blowing away a good chance last year, Sethuraman ended up with 9.5 points from 11 rounds to claim the winner’s trophy and Rs. six lakh. Significantly, this ONGC officer collected 17 rating points which will help him reach 2608 in the next FIDE rating list on September 1.
“I really wanted to do well this time. My rating has come below 2600 and I’m happy to cross the mark again. I felt good about my preparation before coming here and I’m glad all the hard work paid off. I was never in any serious trouble and stayed in control in all my games. The best among my eight wins came on Friday, against Neelash Saha, after I found a nice way to finish,” said the third seed who last won at Kottayam in 2014.
Interestingly, Sethuraman credited fellow-Grandmaster Vishnu Prasanna for mentoring him in recent times.
Vishnu, better remembered as the mentor of D. Gukesh who is set to take over the No. 1 spot from Viswanathan Anand on September 1, finished runner-up by beating second seed Abhimanyu Puranik.
Seeded 21 with a rating of 2411, Vishnu scored nine points, worth Rs. five lakh besides the trophy. Reflecting on his performance, the Tamil Nadu player said, “I was determined to perform well as I believe that my play is stronger than what my rating suggests,”
Interestingly, Vishnu scored 4.5 points from the first five and last five rounds. His lone defeat came to third-placed Aronyak Ghosh. “Today, it was a good win. I believed that since a win or a draw appeared to be the two possible results, I played on and finally got the opportunity to convert it into a win.”
An undefeated Aronyak drew with former champion and top seed Abhijeet Gupta to emerge with the best tie-break score among the seven players tied at 8.5 points. The Railway player received Rs. 4 lakh and a trophy.
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