National Chess C'ship: Victorious Lalith opens up half-point lead; Laxman adds to Himanshu’s woes

For the third time in the last four rounds, Lalith walked away with a victory and emerged as the leader at seven points from 10 rounds.

With three rounds remaining, Lalith enjoys a half-point lead over overnight joint-leader Aravindh Chithambaram.   -  RANJEET KUMAR

M. R. Lalith Babu is peaking at the right time. Just when most contenders are showing signs of fatigue and committing more mistakes than before, this Indian Oil officer is reaching the home-straight of the Khadi India National chess championship with plenty in the tank.

For the third time in the last four rounds, Lalith walked away with a victory and emerged as the leader at seven points from 10 rounds. With three rounds remaining, Lalith enjoys a half-point lead over overnight joint-leader Aravindh Chithambaram.

R.R.Laxman beat Himanshu Sharma of RSPB during the tenth round of the Khadi India National chess championship in Patna.   -  Ranjeet Kumar

 

There was not much change in the standings as the only other decisive game of the day involved a victorious street-fighter R. R. Laxman and last-man Himanshu Sharma. Lalith, upbeat after beating Aravindh on Monday, worked his way to 54-move victory over Sammed Shete. This was Sammed’s fifth successive defeat after a very encouraging start to his maiden campaign.

Playing black, Lalith gained a queenside pawn early in the Caro-Kann game before the queens were off the board. Sammed, who has been consistently getting some good positions, once again yielded much ground to his rival. Lalith went on to trade his rook for a bishop and a knight. Thereafter, Sammed gave up when he saw Lalith’s kingside pawn advancing menacingly.

Earlier, Laxman inflicted a fourth successive loss on Himanshu; thus improving prospects of a strong finish. Himanshu, much like Sammed, has become a ‘target’ in the event even as all players look keen to add to the woes of bottom-scrapers.

Himanshu, firmly in the cellar, kept Laxman at bay before succumbing to rising time pressure. He conceded a queenside pawn on the 38th move and another one, 12 moves later.

Eventually, Laxman won when Himanshu found no way to stopping a ‘queening’ pawn. Meanwhile, veteran former champion Abhijit Kunte’s search for his first victory continued after he drew with P. Shyaam Nikhil in 59 moves. This is only the second time in Kunte’s illustrious career that he has played 10 rounds without a win.

Interestingly, in 1996, when Kunte played the first of his 20 National championships, his only victory came in the final round.

The results:

10th round: Sammed Shete (2.5) lost to M. R. Lalith Babu (7) in 54 moves; Aravindh Chithambaram (6.5) drew with S. Nitin (5.5) in 25 moves; Swapnil Dhopade (4.5) drew with Arghyadip Das (6) in 60 moves; R. R. Laxman (5.5) bt Himanshu Sharma (2) in 57 moves; Deepan Chakkaravarthy (5) drew with S. L. Narayanan (6) in 38 moves; M. Karthikeyan (6) drew with Debashis Das (5) in 28 moves; Abhijit Kunte (4)  drew with P. Shyaam Nikhil (4.5) in 59 moves.

11th-round pairings: Lalith-Deepan; Shyaam-Aravindh; Arghyadip-Karthikeyan; Narayanan-Dhopade; Debashis-Laxman; Nitin-Sammed; Himanshu-Kunte.

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