Nat'l Challengers Chess: Dhopade shocks Aravindh, Swapnil and Himanshu take lead

The race for the nine qualifying spots for this year’s National championship showed signs of warming up, with 13 players, with 5.5 points each following the leaders.

Swapnil Dhopade (right) awaits top seed Aravindh Chithambaram's response during their seventh-round battle in the National Challengers chess championship in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Dhopade won in 79 moves to stay in joint lead.   -  Special Arrangement

Grandmasters Swapnil Dhopade and Himanshu Sharma produced clinical displays to stay in joint lead at 6.5 points after the seventh round of the National Challengers chess championship here.

As the competition crossed the halfway mark, race for the nine qualifying spots for this year’s National championship showed signs of warming up, with 13 players, with 5.5 points each following the leaders.

Sustained pressure from Dhopade saw top seed Aravindh Chithambaram crack in 79 moves. The Tamil Nadu teenager first traded his rook for a bishop and later sacrificed a bishop for two kingside pawns. Dhopade, armed with an extra rook, continued accurately and scored an important victory.

Earlier, Dhopade’s Railway colleague Himanshu needed 41 moves to end the unbeaten run of fellow overnight joint-leader Sammed Shete on the top board.

Second seed S. L. Narayanan, third seed M. R. Lalith Babu, eighth seed Debashis Das and defending champion Ravi S. Teja stayed on course of recovery with fine victories.

The day also saw two teenagers – Pune’s Nikhil Dixit (rated 1847) and Rajkot’s Udit Kamdar (1947) – pull off surprise results. In just 27 moves, Dixit (5) annihilated local Grandmaster Tejas Bakre (2464) and Kamdar (5.5) drew with International Master Swayams Mishra after missing a winning continuation.

The results:

Seventh round: Himanshu Sharma (6.5) bt Sammed Shete (5.5); Aravindh Chithambaram (5) lost to Swapnil Dhopade (6.5); Akash Iyer (5.5) drew with Abhijit Kunte (5.5); Deepan Chakkravarthy (5.5) drew with Arghyadip Das (5.5); Swayams Mishra (5.5) drew with Udit Kamdar (5.5); S. L. Narayanan (5.5) bt Ram S. Krishnan (4.5); Shashikant Kutwal
(4.5) lost to M. R. Lalith Babu (5.5);

Debashis Das (5.5) bt Chakravarthi Reddy (4.5); Sankalp Gupta (5) drew with P. Shyam Nikhil (5); S. Nitin (5) drew with N. Lokesh (5); S. Satyapragyan (5) drew with Koustav Chatterjee (5); Rajesh Nayak (4.5) lost to S. Ravi Teja (5.5); S. Jayakumaar (5) drew with Sriram Jha (5); Jennitha Anto (5) drew with Hemant Sharma (5); Joy Shah (4.5) lost to Mary Ann Gomes (5.5); M. R. Sooraj (5) drew with E. Arjun (5); Fenil Shah (5.5) bt Raja Rithwik (4.5).