Nat'l Challengers: Dhopade remains on top; Debashis, Deepan brighten qualification prospects

Swapnil Dhopade, the 2015 champion reached 9.5 points and became the first to ensure qualification to the next National championship, as eight other spots remain up for grabs over the next two days.

Deepan Chakkaravarthy who cruised to a 40-move victory over S. Satyapragyan in the 11th round of the National challengers chess championship in Ahmedabad on Monday. Deepan now shares the second spot with three others.   -  RAKESH RAO

Front-runner Swapnil Dhopade and top seed Aravindh Chithambaram overcame anxious moments to force draws on the top two boards as battles became expectedly fierce in the 11th round of the National Challengers chess championship here on Monday.

The two other Grandmasters, Debashis Das and Deepan Chakkravarthy won with white pieces to join Himanshu Sharma and M. R. Lalith Babu in the second spot.

Aravindh, R. R. Laxman, S. Nitin, S. Ravi Teja and Sammed Shete share the sixth spot with eight points, half a point ahead of a pack consisting of 18 players.

In the two decisive battles on the leading boards, Debashis trapped the rook of Arghyadip Das and Deepan forced S. Satyapragyan to resign by threatening to capture a bishop following 40 moves.

A clearly-relieved Dhopade retained his overnight one-point lead after escaping the desperate designs of third seed Babu following a top-board clash in 32 moves.

With this, the 2015 champion reached 9.5 points and became the first to ensure qualification to the next National championship. Eight other spots are up for grabs over the next two days.

Himanshu had Aravindh staring at a possible defeat on the second board but missed a stronger continuation on the 32nd move. Himanshu’s choice to capture of queen-side pawn instead of pushing a king-side pawn helped Aravindh to simplify the position.

The Tamil Nadu teenager, who continues to come under time-pressure, eventually managed a draw in 56 moves.

The results:

11th round: M. R. Lalith Babu (8.5) drew with Swapnil Dhopade (9.5); Himanshu Sharma (8.5) drew with Aravindh Chithambaram (8); Debashis Das (8.5) bt Arghyadip Das (7.5); Deepan Chakkravarthy (8.5) bt S. Satyapragyan (7.5); S. Nitin (8) drew with S. Ravi Teja (8); E. Arjun (7) lost to S. L. Narayanan (8);

Abhijit Kunte (7.5) drew with Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (7.5); Padmini Rout (7.5) drew with P. Shyamnikhil (7.5); Sameer Kathmale (7) lost to R. R. Laxman (8); Sriram Jha (7.5) drew with Akash Iyer (7.5); K. Ratnakaran (7) lost to Sammed Shete (7); Mary Ann Gomes (7.5) drew with Baivab Mishra (7.5).

Leading 12th round pairings:

Dhopade-Debasish; Deepan-Himanshu; Laxman-Babu; Aravindh-Nitin; Ravi-Narayanan; Arghyadip-Sammed.

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