National Chess C’ship: Aravindh joins three-leader pack

Seasoned player Abhijit Kunte lost to debutant Sammed Shete in the fifth round of National Championship. It was a rare defeat for Kunte, who is not known to lose to fellow Indians, that too, when playing with black pieces.

Debutant Sammed Shete (left) stunned veteran Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte in 29 moves in the fifth round of the Khadi India National chess championship in Patna on Wednesday.   -  Rakesh Rao

When Abhijit Kunte made his debut in the National chess championship in 1996 and won in 1997, Sammed Shete was not even born.

The Kolhapur-lad, who turned 18 last month, belongs to a generation of players from Maharashtra who have idolised Pune-based Kunte and want to emulate the 40-year-old’s class and consistency.

On Wednesday, Sammed pulled off the unexpected in an almost unbelievable manner in the Khadi India National chess championship here. For someone making his debut in the premier event, Sammed exploited Kunte’s error of judgement on the 14th move and went on to win the battle in the Taimanov variation of Sicilian Defence in just 29 moves.

For the record, after five rounds, a victorious Aravindh Chithambaram joined overnight leaders S. L. Narayanan and M. R. Lalith Babu in the lead at 3.5 points.

After R. R. Laxman scored his second straight victory that resulted in a third straight loss for Deepan Chakkravarthy, and before Aravindh came up with a well-calculated rook-sacrifice in an endgame involving equal pawns and a rook each against Swapnil Dhopade, Sammed experienced a great high.

He made Kunte, playing his 20th National championship, resign when faced with the prospect of either saving his queen and getting checkmated, or sacrificing the queen and losing a bit later. It was a rare defeat for Kunte, who is not known to lose to fellow Indians, that too, when playing with black pieces.

Sameed, after having let defending champion M. Karthikeyan and R. R. Laxman elude his grasp on the previous two days, said, “I knew I had my chances in the last two rounds but I know these things happen. I wanted to focus on the next game. Today, I am very happy with this result.”

Kunte, gracious in defeat, acknowledged the teenager’s resilience and said, “I can't recall when was the last time I lost (with black) in the National championship. After I misjudged Sammed’s options after playing my knight on the 14th move, I knew my position was difficult to defend, unless he erred. He did not give me any chance.”

The results:
  • Fifth round: Arvindh Chithambaram (3.5) bt Swapnil Dhopade (2) in 58 moves; Sameed Shete (2.5) bt Abhijit Kunte (2) in 29 moves; Deepan Chakkravarthy (1.5) lost to R. R. Laxman (3) in 40 moves; S. L. Narayanan (3.5) drew with M. Karthikeyan (3) in 43 moves; M. R. Lalith Babu (3.5) drew with Arghyadip Das (2.5) in 21 moves; S. Nitin (2.5) drew with Debashis Das (2) in 35 moves; P. Shyaam Nikhil (2) drew with Himanshu Sharma (1.5) in 30 moves.

Sixth-round pairings: Karthikeyan-Lalith; Aravindh-Shete; Laxman-Narayanan; Arghyadip-Nitin; Debashis-Shyaam; Kunte-Deepan; Dhopade-Himanshu.