National Premier Chess: Karthikeyan Murali clinches title

Karthikeyan, who lost in the final round against International Master (IM) Arghyadip Das, and GM Vidit Gujrathi, who drew with GM M. Shyam Sundar, finished with 8.5 points each after 13 rounds. However, Karthikeyan was adjudged winner since he had defeated Vidit in the 10th round.

Karthikeyan Murali with the National Premier Chess title.   -  The Hindu

Sixteen-year-old Grand Master (GM) Karthikeyan Murali of Tamil Nadu clinched the title in the ONGC 53rd National Premier Chess championship, organised by the Tiruvarur DCA, at the Kasi’s Inn here on Saturday.

Karthikeyan, who lost in the final round against International Master (IM) Arghyadip Das, and GM Vidit Gujrathi, who drew with GM M. Shyam Sundar, finished with 8.5 points each after 13 rounds. However, Karthikeyan was adjudged winner since he had defeated Vidit in the 10th round. Last year’s winner, GM S. P. Sethuraman played out a draw with IM P. Karthikeyan. Sethuraman, with eight points, bagged the third spot.

Karthikeyan, playing with black pieces, opted for the Pirc defence. Leading the charge with Austrian attack, Arghyadip played aggressively with his rook stationed on the seventh rank, supported by his knight. As a result, Karthikeyan had to play with the handicap of having one pawn less in the rook and pawns ending. Clever handling of his rook fetched Arghyadip the lone pawn of Karthikeyan. Arghyadip’s two connected pawns proved decisive.

Vidit and Shyam draw after 52 moves

While Vidit enjoyed a slight advantage with two extra pawns in the middle game of a Catalan opening, Shyam made a surprise bishop sacrifice offer under time pressure. In the process, Vidit lost the additional pawns and after exchanging the dark coloured bishop, each had two pawns on the board. Both kings were in perfect positions to force a draw after 52 moves.

“The feeling of having won the National Premier title is yet to sink in. I was slightly disappointed after losing the first two rounds, but was confident of staging a comeback. It is a very proud moment for me,” said Karthikeyan, a standard XII student of Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Mogappair, Chennai.

Besides walking away with Rs. 2,50,000 prize money, Karthikeyan has become an automatic choice for the Chess Olympiad next year.

The results (13th and final round):

K. Ratnakaran (Rlys) 6.5 bt M.R. Venkatesh (PSPB) 4.5; P. Shyaamnikhil (TN) 4.5 bt K. Praneeth Surya (Tel) 6.5; Vidit Gujrathi (PSPB) 8.5 drew with M. Shyam Sundar (AAI) 6.5; Abhijit Kunte (PSPB) 6 drew with Deep Sengupta (PSPB) 5.5; Swapnil S. Dhopade (Rlys) 5.5 bt Neelotpal Das (PSPB) 6; Arghyadip Das (Rlys) 7 bt Karthikeyan Murali (TN) 8.5; S.P. Sethuraman (PSPB) 8 drew with P. Karthikeyan (Rlys) 7.5.

Final standings:

1. Karthikeyan Murali, 2. Vidit Gujrathi, 3. S. P. Sethuraman, 4. P. Karthikeyan, 5. Arghyadip Das, 6. K. Ratnakaran, 7. K. Praneeth Surya, 8. M. Shyam Sundar, 9. Abhijit Kunte, 10. Neelotpal Das, 11. Deep Sengupta, 12. Swapnil S. Dhopade, 13. P. Shyaamnikhil, 14. M. R. Venkatesh.