National Chess Championship: Anurag, Aravindh in joint lead

Anurag Mhamal pulled off what looked like an unlikely victory over Deepan Chakkravarthy to join Aravindh Chithambaram in the lead at the end of the seventh round of National Chess championship.

Anurag Mhamal gained from Deepan Chakkravarthy’s uncompromising approach and capitalised on a couple of late errors in a seemingly drawn position to move into joint lead with Aravindh Chithambaram after seven rounds of National chess championship here.

Mhamal, who let Aravindh off the hook in the previous round, won in 34 moves. On the top two boards, overnight sole leader and fourth seed Aravindh drew with fifth seed Deep Sengupta in 38 moves, just like 10th seed Vishnu Prasanna did against third seed Vaibhav Suri.

With six rounds to go, Aravindh and Mhamal lead with six points, half-a-point ahead of Deep, Vishnu, Suri and the triumphant pack of G. A. Stany, Swapnil Dhopade, Sammed Shete and G. B. Harshavardhan.

Following a gruelling two-round schedule on Tuesday, some less-fierce battles were expected but that was not to be. There was no let up in the intensity on the leading boards, with the seventh seed Deepan looking for every possibility to press home his rating superiority over Mhamal.

Leading results (seventh round)
Aravindh Chithambaram (6) drew with Deep Sengupta (5.5); Vishnu Prasanna (5.5) drew with Vaibhav Suri (5.5); Anurag Mhamal (6) bt Deepan Chakkravarthy (5); G. A. Stany (5.5) bt P. D. S. Girinath (4.5); Swapnil Dhopade (5.5) bt P. Konguvel (4.5); K. Ratnakaran (5) drew with P. Karthikeyan (5); N. R. Vignesh (5) drew with Ritviz Parab (5); Sammed Shete (5.5) bt Swayams Mishra (4.5); G. Akash (5) drew with Rahul Srivatshav (5); G. B.
Harshavardhan (5.5) bt M. R. Venkatesh (4); Srijit Paul (4) lost to Abhijeet Gupta (5).

However, in a game that could have easily ended in a draw following a three-fold repetition, Deepan committed two back-to-back blunders with his queenside pawn moves and resigned immediately when faced with the loss of a rook.

Facing Aravindh, Deep gave very little away and the positional battle ended with the signing of peace with each player left with a rook, a bishop and four pawns. Similarly, the encounter involving Suri and P. Karthikeyan, the reigning Commonwealth champion was also fought on an even keel and never appeared to be heading for a decisive finish.

The struggling quartet of Abhijeet Gupta (5), Murali Karthikeyan, Sandipan Chanda and Karthik Venkataraman (4.5 each) - seeded one, two, six and nine — won their games to stay in the hunt.

Veteran Pravin Thipsay (5) reproduced the magic of old against Baivab Mishra and put the finishing touches in great style with black pieces.

Another seasoned campaigner G. B. Joshi (4.5) scored a surprise victory over Sriram Jha after winning a queen for a rook. Joshi’s teammate from Air India, Tejas Bakre (5) had it easy against former women National champion Nisha Mohota.

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