Underdog K Praneeth Surya of Telangana, the lowest ranked player caused the biggest upset of the tournament, beating the defending champion and joint top rated player SP Sethuraman of PSPB in the fifth round of the ONGC 53rd National Premier Chess Championship, organised by Tiruvarur District Chess Association, at Kasi’s Inn, Tiruvarur today.
Probably Praneeth might have been inspired by Pelletier of Sweden who stunned world champion Magnus Carlsen, who is placed 284 points above him in the rating list, in the European Team Championship yesterday.
The 238 rating points difference between Sethuraman and Praneeth did not cause any panic to Praneeth in the Kings Indian attack. Praneeth ventured into attack from 22nd move, by opting a pawn break with f4 and boldly threw open his king side. Sethuraman underestimated his ploy and preferred to encash it with his queen manoeuvre. Six moves later, Praneeth not only regained the pawn, but won the exchange also. Sethuraman tried to defend the position, but another rook sacrifice by Praneeth for a knight, tilted the game in his favour. Praneeth’s first win over a player rated above 2650 is bound to take him to greater heights.
Twice national champion Abhijit Kunte of PSPB adopted the Nimzo Indian defence against former under 14 national champion Vidit Santosh Gujrathi and the latter’s piece development was better than that of the former. Vidit gained a pawn on 29th move and his powerful d- pawn on the seventh rank forced a win for him six moves later.
Joint leader P Karthikeyan of Railways used the hedgehog against the Maroczy Bind formation of pawns by GM M Shyam Sundar of AAI. But, Karthikeyan could not use it effectively as he could not play the theoretical b5 or d5, leading to a cramped position for him. In a span of two moves, Shyam grabbed two pawns in the middle game, coasting to a victory in 32 moves.
Tamil Nadu grandmaster Karthikeyan Murali recorded the first hat trick of wins of the tournament and that too after a setback of two successive losses. The fierce battle between the former under 16 world champion and Deep Sengupta, a former under 12 world champion from PSPB was an entertaining one. Karthikeyan won a pawn on 24th move and four moves later, Deep had to lose the exchange to avoid a checkmate. By then, Karthikeyan grew with confidence and won the rook vs knight ending comfortably.
Former Bronze medallist in World under 10 championship, GM MR Venkatesh of PSPB played Nge7 line of Ruy Lopez opening played by his team mate GM Neelotpal Das. Though he had an extra pawn he cannot convert the opposite colour bishop ending to a win. IM K Rathnakaran of Railways answered with the Kopec system to the Sicilian defence by his team mate IM Arghyadip Das, but both could not make any break through and the game ended in a draw after 36 moves.