National Chess C'ship: Lalith stops Aravindh to share lead; thrilling win for Deepan

The first defeat of second seed Aravindh Chithambaram, the overnight leader by one point, to a supremely-confident M. R. Lalith Babu meant the duo shared the lead at six points. Interestingly, there are no unbeaten players left in the 14-man field.

Lalith’s clinical dominance of Aravindh was very significant in the context of the title race.   -  RANJEET KUMAR

What a day it turned out to be in the Khadi India National chess championship! With four rounds to go, Monday’s ninth round witnessed some sensational results, one dramatic finish and more importantly, threw open the title race.

The first defeat of second seed Aravindh Chithambaram, the overnight leader by one point, to a supremely-confident M. R. Lalith Babu meant the duo shared the lead at six points. Interestingly, there are no unbeaten players left in the 14-man field. Defending champion M. Karthikeyan and S. L. Narayanan seeded one and three, bounced back from Sunday’s defeat to share the third spot with Arghyadip Das (5.5 points).

Away from the front-runners, Deepan Chakkravarthy was busy making up for the hat-trick of defeats suffered last week. In a brilliant tactical finish, Deepan sacrificed his queen as part of the sequence of moves that left Swapnil Dhopade dazed and defeated.

Though the fifth defeats for off-form Himanshu Sharma and Sammed Shete did not come as a surprise, S. Nitin’s first victory over Abhijit Kunte in five encounters was unexpected.

S.Nitin of RSPB beat Abhijit Kunthe of PSPB during the ninth round of the Khadi India National chess championship in Patna.   -  RANJEET KUMAR

 

Among the five decisive outcomes, Lalith’s clinical dominance of Aravindh was very significant in the context of the title race. Lalith was determined to offset the loss suffered to Karthikeyan and Monday’s victory could not have come against a better rival.

“Probably, if I had not beaten him today, Aravindh could have well slipped away (to win the title),” said Lalith following the 46-win triumph in Grunfeld Defence, something that Aravindh opted for the first time.

Lalith felt that Aravindh was not well-versed with the lines of Grunfeld and underestimated the potential of white’s queen move on the seventh turn. Out of their preparations, the players were soon struggling to find the precise continuation.

Once Aravindh lost a pawn, Lalith held the upper hand but missed a shorter way to victory. “Somehow I was very confident of winning today but how it came about on the board was quite different from what I had prepared for,” said Lalith, aiming to win a title “in a long time.”

Earlier, the way Deepan finished with a flourish against Swapnil was sure to be remembered by the chess lovers for a long time. It may be recalled that in August, it was Deepan who snatched away the National Challengers title that looked like going Swapnil’s way until their decisive battle in the final round.

On this day, if Swapnil had come to avenge that defeat, he was in for a rude shock. With Swapnil lacking time to complete 40 moves in 90 minutes and 30-second increment per move, Deepan produced a visual delight. In the last 10 moves of this 41-move battle in Caro-Kann, Deepan left his rival devastated with precise calculation in a tricky situation while executing the winning plan very effectively.

The results:

Ninth round: M. R. Lalith Babu (6) bt Aravindh Chithambaram (6) in 46 moves; Himanshu Sharma (2) lost to M. Karthikeyan (5.5) in 64 moves; Debashis Das (4.5) drew with Arghyadip Das (5.5) in 26 moves; Deepan Chakkravarthy (4.5) bt Swapnil Dhopade (4) in 41 moves; S. L Narayanan (5.5) bt Sammed Shete (2.5) in 60 moves; S. Nitin (5) bt Abhijit Kunte (3.5) in 33 moves; P. Shyaam Nikhil (4) drew with R. R. Laxman (4.5) in 26 moves.

10th-round pairings: Aravindh v Nitin; Sammed v Lalith; Karthikeyan v Debashis; Swapnil v Arghyadip; Deepan v Narayanan; Kunte v Shyaam; Laxman v Himanshu.

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