National C'ship: Aravindh escapes defeat, retains lead

In a marathon lasting five hours and 19 minutes at the National Chess Championship, Abhishek Kelkar failed to seize the big moments after being better off against Aravindh Chithambaram during the 81-move encounter.

Aravindh Chithambaram has maintained his lead in the tournament, with 6.5 points.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

A tenacious Aravindh Chithambaram escaped the grasp of little-known Abhishek Kelkar in the eighth round when the top two seeds, Vidit Gujarathi and B. Adhiban, encountered contrasting resistance in the National chess championship here on Thursday.

In a marathon lasting five hours and 19 minutes, Kelkar failed to seize the big moments after being better off during the 81-move encounter. The result kept Chithambaram in the lead with 6.5 points.

Until Kelkar pushed an in-form Chithambaram to the brink of defeat, D. B. Chandra Prasad held all the attention as he stunned an inconsistent R. R. Laxman.

Before going into Friday’s rest day, Tejas Bakre used his experience to play out a staid draw with Vidit but Adhiban showed no mercy to tailender Sriram Jha.

Bakre’s solid positional play against Vidit ended in a 25 move-draw and the result raised their individual tallies to 4.5 points. Adhiban was in his elements in his Ruy Lopez game with Jha. He gained a pawn on the 35th move before Jha seriously lost his way and the game over in the next five moves. This was Jha’s sixth defeat in eight rounds and kept him firmly in the cellar.

The results:

Eighth round: B. Adhiban (5) bt Sriram Jha (1.5); Abhishek Kelkar (2.5) drew with Aravindh Chithambaram (6.5); S. Nitin (4) drew with Abhijit Kunte (3.5); D. B. Chandra Prasad (4) bt R. R. Laxman (5); Tejas Bakre (4.5) drew with Vidit Gujarathi (4.5); M. Karthikeyan (5.5) and S. Ravi Teja (5) bye.