Sharmas take top two spots

Preetham Sharma, Himanshu Sharma and T. Purushothaman, who took the first three places in the National youth chess championships in Vijayawada. — Pic. Ch. VIJAYA BHASKAR-

HALF-WAY through the National Youth (under-25) chess championships at the Chenupati Ramakotaiah Kreeda Pragnanam, Vijayawada, the teens threatened to usurp the eight-day event. Players over 20 years of age were made to appear over the hill.

T. Purushothaman, just out of school and appearing privately for his first year intermediate exam, defeated favourite R. R. Laxman, a first year M.A. student of English Literature at Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu in round four. Barely had another of couple of rounds been played and Laxman was again at the receiving end, this time at the hands of V. Somesh, an eighth standard student of Sunshine Public School, Ongole, Andhra Pradesh.

Somesh, who relishes lightning chess the most, had made quite a stir with his upset of Laxman. The soft-spoken and shy `mindbender' was quick to acknowledge the coaching support of his mentor Sembhu in his native town. Purushothaman continued to call the shots at the top of the table, until stopped in his tracks by Himanshu Sharma.

Meanwhile, Somesh met more than his match in Preetham Sharma, who remained undefeated through the meet, although he drew four matches. Sharma's mental makeup seemed ideal for the game, in that he remained unruffled when the battle raged on the board and quite cheerful before and after his day's work was done.

A ticket collector with Southern Railway and based in Chennai, Sharma dedicated his maiden title win to his late father, P. R. Sharma, who died in a road accident a year and a half ago. Himanshu on the other hand dropped out of his B Com studies to focus on chess full time. Coached by his father Virender Sharma, the Rohtak, Haryana native justified his second-seed billing and held on to that position quite tenaciously. In the last edition of the championship too, he had been runner-up.

Purushothaman could go a long way were he to take part in more tournaments. From his native Guntur, Vijayawada is about half an hour's drive away. The latter trading town has been rising in prominence on the chess map, with several national events being held here, starting with the National `B' championships in June.

The final standings (progressive score in square brackets in case of tie):

(1) Preetham Sharma 7 [37.5] TN, (2) Himanshu Sharma 7 [35] Har., (3) T. Purushothaman 6.5 [39] AP, (4) G. Balaji 6.5 [35.5] Venus CA, (5) R. R. Laxman 6.5 [32.5] Emmanuel CA, (6) M. Vinoth Kumar 6.5 [31.5] T' Nagar CA, (7) Puneet Jaiswal 6.5 [31.5], (8) M. R. Lalith Babu 6.5 [29] SPAC.

The results (ninth round): Himanshu Sharma 7 drew with R. R. Laxman 6.5, M. Vinoth Kumar 6.5 drew with Preetham Sharma 7, Puneet Jaiswal 6.5 drew with T. Purushothaman 6.5, G. Balaji 6.5 bt V. Somesh 5.5, M. R. Lalith Babu 6.5 bt S. K. Sinha 5, Debashis Das 5.5 drew with Vinod Kumar Sharma 5.5, T. R. Shanmuganathan 5.5 drew with N. Pragna 5.5, Ram Mohan Reddy 5.5 drew with A. Nayak 5.5, Aditya Vikas 5.5 bt Ram S. Krishnan 4.5, Biswajit Chatterjee 5 drew with Koneru Chandrahawsa 5.

A. Joseph Antony