Ravi Teja takes crown, Prasad runner-up

Ravi and Surya Praneeth drew their top-board encounter in just 14 moves before an untitled Chandra Prasad signed off his brilliant campaign by annihilating an unsuspecting GM Vishnu Prasanna in 29 moves.

S. Ravi Teja with the trophy after winning the National Challengerschess championship in Noida on Tuesday.   -  Special Arrangement

International Master S. Ravi Teja ensured the Amity National Challengers chess title much before the fierce battles on the leading boards threw up a few surprises among the nine qualifiers for the National championship here on Tuesday.

Ravi and Surya Praneeth drew their top-board encounter in just 14 moves before an untitled Chandra Prasad signed off his brilliant campaign by annihilating an unsuspecting GM Vishnu Prasanna in 29 moves.

Once the clarity of established, Ravi (10 points) took the winner’s cup and Rs. 1.50 lakh, followed by runner-up Prasad who collected Rs. 87,500 and Surya, whose unbeaten performance was worth Rs. 62,500.

Though Prasad and Surya finished with 9.5 points, like Abhijit Kunte and Abhishek Kelkar, the runner-up was decided on the number of victories scored. Prasad scored seven wins, against six each by the rest in the score-group. In fact, the fourth-placed Kunte was best among the GMs.

Before the remaining four qualifying spots were decided, there were some nervous moments for the aspirants. Finally, eight players tied for the sixth place. Nitin nailed Ramnath Bhuvanesh for his eighth victory — in the penultimate game to finish — and took the sixth spot.

GMs R. R. Laxman, Shardul Gagare and top seed Aravindh Chithambaram completed the list of nine qualifiers.

The eligibility criteria for the 14-player National championship allows direct participation to the country’s current top-four ranked players — Viswanathan Anand, P. Hari Krishna, Surya Shekhar Ganguly and B. Adhiban — besides the defending champion, M. Karthikeyan.

Since Anand and Hari are not expected to return to the National championship, their replacements will be GMs Sriram Jha and Tejas Bakre, who took the 10th and 11th spots. Should Ganguly also stay away, then veteran International Master Neeraj Kumar Mishra, placed 13th, will get a chance.

On the final day, the biggest surprise was the defeat of second seed S. L. Narayanan who cracked under pressure against Abhishek Kelkar in 50 moves. With this, Naryanan joined Prasanna as the only two GMs, out of the eight participating, not to qualify.

The National championship will be played from November 15 to 29 at Lucknow.

The results:

13th round: S. Ravi Teja (10) drew with Surya Praneeth (9.5); Abhijit Kunte (9.5) drew with Aravindh Chithambaram (9); Abhishek Kelkar (9.5) bt S. L. Narayanan (8.5); Chandra Prasad (9.5) bt Vishnu Prasad (8.5); R. R. Laxman (9) drew with Tejas Bakre (9); Utkal Ranjan Sahoo (9) drew with Sriram Jha (9); Shardul Gagare (9) bt Santu Mondal (8); B. Harsha (8.5) drew with Himal Gusain (8.5); Neeraj Kumar Mishra (9) bt

G. Akash (8); S. Nitin (9) bt Ramnath Bhuvanesh (8).

Final placings (top 13): 1. Ravi (Rlys), 2-5. Prasad (AP), Surya (Tela), Kunte (Pet), Kelkar (Mah); 6-13. Nitin (Rlys), Laxman (Rlys),Shardul (Mah), Aravindh (TN), Jha (LIC), Bakre (AI), Mishra (Jhar) and Sahoo (Odi).