Vidit Santosh Gujrathi maintained his sole lead with, raising his tally to six points at the end of the eighth round of the ONGC 53rd National Premier Chess Championship, organised by Tiruvarur District Chess Association at Kasi’s Inn, today.
IM P. Karthikeyan also continued with good form to remain on second spot, half a point behind.
In the much awaited clash between the joint top two seeds, friends and foes from PSPB, former under 16 world champion SP Sethuraman and former under 14 world champion Vidit Santosh Gujrathi , the latter applied classical variation of French defence.
Sethuraman, handling the white pieces, castled on the long side. Vidit tried to exploit it by forwarding the queen side pawns and Sethuraman did the same on the king side. But, Vidit seized the initiative first and went for a kill on 28th move, forcing Sethuraman to lose his queen for a bishop and knight, definitely a meagre compensation.
But, under time pressure, both, especially Vidit made serious mistakes to level the game with equal pieces towards the end. An exciting game had a tame draw after 48 moves.
Karthikeyan shattered the pawn structure of IM P Shyaam Nikhil of Tamil Nadu in a centre counter defence game by the latter and had three connected pawns in the end game. Karthikeyan combined his rook and two knights efficiently to win the game without any ado.
Another game with French defence ended in favour of another former under 16 world champion Karthikeyan Murali of Tamil Nadu against IM K Rathnakaran of Railways. In the Tarrasch variation, Karthikeyan lost a pawn on 30th move, but doubled his agile rooks on e- file to win exchange. Only a few more moves were required for Karthikeyan to strike it rich.
Third highest rated player of the tournament, Deep Sengupta of PSPB scored his first win of the tournament, at the expense of GM M Shyam Sundar of Airport Authority of India in a closed variation of Spanish opening. Shyam made an exchange sacrifice at a wrong moment, which was not wasted by Deep. Shyam’s desperate attacks were of no use and he resigned on the 44th move.
Abhijeet Kunte adopted the Paulsen variation of Sicilian defence against IM Arghyadip Das of Railways and set up a hedgehog position in the early part of the game. When there was a smooth flow in the middle game, Kunte won a pawn and the exchange by exchanging queens on 33rd move. Kunte won the game comfortably in 39 moves.
Both GM MR Venkatesh and PSPB and GM elect Swapnil Dhopade of Railways sacrificed minor pieces to control the game arising from Catalan opening. But Venkatesh’s advanced pawns and king were helpful to pocket a point for him.
The Najdorf variation of Sicilian defence played by GM Neelotpal Das of PSPB against FM K Praneeth Surya of Telangana yielded half point to each player after 33 moves.
Round 8 standings:
1. GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2651 – 6
2. IM Karthikeyan P. IND 2441 – 5.5
3. GM Karthikeyan Murali IND 2498 – 5
4-9. GM Shyam Sundar M. IND 2481, GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2651, GM Neelotpal Das IND 2475, FM K. Praneeth Surya IND 2413, IM Swapnil S. Dhopade IND 2497 and IM Das Arghyadip IND 2456 – 4
10. GM Venkatesh M.R. IND 2464 – 3.5
11-14. GM Sengupta Deep IND 2589, IM Shyaamnikhil P IND 2436, IM Rathnakaran K. IND 2447 and GM Kunte Abhijit IND 2515 – 3