Arjun Erigaisi claims national chess champion crown, edges out Gukesh and Iniyan in tie-breaker

Grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi of Telangana won the 58th edition of Senior National Chess Championship in Kanpur on Thursday.

Arjun Erigaisi

TEEN-SWEEP: Arjun Erigaisi (centre) with the winner's trophy, flanked by runner-up D. Gukesh (right) and third-placed P. Iniyan at the conclusion of the MPL 58th National chess championship in Kanpur on Thursday.   -  Rakesh Rao

Following a three-way tie involving teenagers, Arjun Erigaisi proved first among equals. With an amazing display of quality and consistency, Arjun, 18, won the MPL National chess title with 8.5 points after his superior tiebreak score kept him ahead of the Tamil Nadu duo of D. Gukesh, 15, and P. Iniyan, 19, here on Thursday.

The second seed from Telangana never trailed in the 11-round contest and richly deserved the top prize of Rs. six lakh. Gukesh took the second spot, worth Rs. five lakh and Iniyan, who caught up with the two overnight leaders with a last-round victory, collected Rs. four lakh.

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Dethroned champion Aravindh Chithambaram was fourth after topping a pack of seven players at eight points, ahead of another youngster Aryan Chopra.

Arjun ended his campaign with a hard-fought 42-move draw against former champion S. P. Sethuraman, whose extra pawn was not enough to force a decisive result. He needed this draw since Gukesh drew with Aryan in 30 moves and Iniyan overpowered Mitrabha Guha in 39 moves by delivering a fine tactical blow to shatter the fortress of the castled black king.

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After winning only his second Swiss league format, Arjun said, “In the days leading to this championship, I was very unwell and decided to skip this event. But once I felt better, I convinced my parents to let me play here. I’m very happy with the results but there were at least two games, particularly the one against V. Pranav, where I really struggled.”

Pertinently, Arjun felt very sad for Gukesh. “He played equally well and I wish there was a better way to decide the champion.”

Important results:

11th round: S. P. Sethuraman (8) drew with Arjun Erigaisi (8.5); D. Gukesh (8.5) drew with Aryan Chopra (8); V. Pranav (8) drew with N. R. Visakh (8); P. Iniyan (8.5) bt Mitrabha Guha (7.5); Deep Sengupta (7.5) drew with Aravindh Chithambaram (8); M. Karthikeyan (8) bt Aditya Mittal (7); Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh (7.5) drew with Harsha Bharathakoti (7.5); M. R. Lalith Babu (6.5) lost to Koustav Chatterjee (8).

Top-10 standings (with prize-money): 1. Arjun (6 lakh), 2. Gukesh (5 lakh), 3. Iniyan (4 lakh), 4. Aravindh (3 lakh), 5. Aryan (2.50 lakh), 6. Koustav Chatterjee (Rs. 2.50 lakh), 7. Karthikeyan (Rs. 2 lakh), 8. Visakh (2 lakh), 9. Sethuraman (1.50 lakh), 10. Pranav (1.50 lakh).

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