With the exception of S. P. Sethuraman, former champions continued to struggle in the 60th National chess championship even as only eight leaders maintained perfect scores after four rounds here on Saturday.
After Chhattisgarh’s S. Dhananjay showed the way by stunning top seed and former champion Abhijeet Gupta on Friday it was the turn of G. Akash and twice winner D. V. Prasad to end up on the losing side against lesser-rated rivals at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here.
While Dhananjay continued his good work and held Grandmaster M. R. Venkatesh, Akash had a forgettable day. Best remembered for winning the 2012 edition at the age of 16, ran into his senior teammate from Tamil Nadu, C. Praveen Kumar, and resigned in 55 moves after failing to find a way to stop his rival’s queening-pawn.
Prasad, rated 2254 and facing players of a different generation in his comeback bid, found the going tough against home state’s Shriraj Bhosale (1930) and resigned in a lost position following the late queen-trade. Shriraj’s threat to queen a pawn proved the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Six-time winner Surya Shekhar Ganguly was a shade lucky after managing to hold Railway’s S. Nitin.
Much later, second seed Abhimanyu Puranik needed 56 moves to stop Arghyadip Das in the last game to finish among the top-10 boards. Sethuraman brushed aside his Tamil Nadu statemate L. R. Srihari in 33 moves.
The other leaders were Mitrabha Guha, P. Iniyan, N. R. Vignesh, Deep Sengupta, Praveen Kumar and Sayantan Das.
Fourth round: Abhimanyu Puranik (4) bt Arghyadip Das (3); L. R. Srihari (3) lost to S. P. Sethuraman (4); S. Nitin (3.5) drew with Surya Shekhar Ganguly (3.5); Soham Kamotra (3.5) drew with Diptayan Ghosh (3.5); Mitrabha Guha (4) bt C. R. G. Krishna (3); Utsab Chatterjee (3) lost to P. Iniyan (4); N. R. Vignesh (4) bt Utkal Ranjan Sahoo (3); Aakash Dalvi (3) lost to Sayantan Das (4); Deep Sengupta (4) bt Rajesh Nayak (3); G. Akash (3) lost to C. Praveen Kumar (4); S. Dhananjay (3.5) drew with M. R. Venkatesh (3.5); Anuj Shrivatri (3.5) drew with Bhaavan Kolla (3.5).
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