National U-18 Online Rapid Championship: Manish, Keerthi win titles; two girls found cheating

Off the lead by half-a-point after the penultimate round, Manish Kumar, Aronyak Ghosh and Ayush Sharma won the final rounds to tie at nine points from 11 rounds.

Odisha’s Manish Kumar topped a three-way tie to win the National Under-18 Online Rapid Chess title on Saturday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

In a dramatic finish, Odisha’s Manish Kumar topped a three-way tie to win the National Under-18 Online Rapid Chess title on Saturday.

Off the lead by half-a-point after the penultimate round, Manish, Aronyak Ghosh (Bengal) and Ayush Sharma (Madhya Pradesh) won the final rounds to tie at nine points from 11 rounds.

In the final round, Manish and Ayush accounted for the two 10th round leaders - M. Pranesh (Tamil Nadu) and Sankalp Gupta (Maharashtra) - while Aronyak defeated Raja Rithvik (Telangana).

The girls’ title went to Telangana’s G. Keerthi who scored nine points from 11 rounds. Uttar Pradesh’s Riya Mishra and Tamil Nadu’s V. Rindhiya tied for the second spot with 8.5 points.

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Meanwhile, in a major development, a five-member Fairplay Committee comprising Grandmasters Tejas Bakre, M. R. Lalith Babu, N. Srinath and International Masters Rakesh Kulkarnni and Akshat Khamparia found two girls guilty of resorting to unfair means during the matches. Based on video evidence, these girls were asked to leave the competition early on Saturday.

On Monday, Kheerthi was found guilty of cheating in the tournament and the AICF has taken away the title. Even Riya Mishra, who finished runner-up, has been suspended for cheating.

“We have a zero-tolerance approach to cheating,” maintained the All India Chess Federation secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan.

“I appeal to all participants of the ongoing national age-group championships to stay away from the lure of using unfair means. Our alert arbiters and Fair play mechanism are firmly in place and the guilty will not be spared,” he continued.

The National Under-16 event commences on Sunday.

Leading standings: Open: 1-3. Manish Kumar, Aronyak Ghosh, Ayush Sharma (9 each), 4-7. Sankalp Gupta, M. Pranesh, Aditya Samanth and Chetan Arhan (8.5 each).

Girls: 1. G. Kheerthi (9 points), 2-3. Riya Mishra, V. Rindhiya (8.5 each), 4-9. Bristy Mukherjee, Dhyana Patel, Chandraereja Prachiti, Poorna Sri, B. Akashya Mounika and R. Sanjana (8 each).
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