National C'ship: Karthikeyan defends title after Chithambaram falters

Chithambaram only needed to match Karthikeyan’s final-round result to claim the title. But that was not to be.

M. Karthikeyan of Tamil Nadu in action at the National Chess Championship.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

In a thrilling finale to the National chess championship, M. Karthikeyan defended the title after some unexpected help from R. R. Laxman here on Wednesday.

Playing the 13th and final round with white pieces, overnight joint leader Karthikeyan and Chithambaram started as favourites against their lower-rated rivals. In fact, owing to a favourable tie-break, Chithambaram only needed to match Karthikeyan’s final-round result to claim the title. But that was not to be.

As anticipated, Karthikeyan proved stronger for D. B. Chandra Prasad but not before an unpredictable Laxman overpowered Chithambaram in 101 moves.

In fact, the two title-contenders had unpleasant positions out of the opening. But Karthikeyan slowly managed to get away with it against a less-experienced Chandra Prasad. Chithambaram was not so lucky against a resolute Laxman.

Eventually, by the time Chandra Prasad gave up in 66 moves, Karthikeyan had seen Chithambaram resign.

The results:

13th round: M. Karthikeyan bt D. B. Chandra Prasad; Aravindh Chithambaram lost to R. R. Laxman; Ravi Teja lost to Vidit Gujarathi; B. Adhiban bt S. Nitin; Sriram Jha lost to Tejas Bakre; Abhijit Kunte and Abhishek Kelkar bye.

Final standings, with points* and prize-money:

1. M. Karthikeyan (10.5 points, Rs. 2.50 lakh), 2. Aravindh Chithambaram (9.5, Rs. 1.40 lakh), 3. B. Adhiban (9, Rs. 1 lakh), 4. Vidit Gujarathi (9, Rs. 80,000), 5. R. R. Laxman (8, Rs. 70,000), 6. Abhijit Kunte (7,5, 60,000), 7. Tejas Bakre (7.5, Rs. 55,000), 8. Ravi Teja (7.5, Rs. 50,000), 9. S. Nitin (6.5, Rs. 45,000), 10. Abhishek Kelkar (5.5, Rs. 40,000), 11. D. B. Chandra Prasad (5, Rs. 35,000) and 12. Sriram Jha (3, Rs. 30,000).