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Parimarjan Negi moves into sole lead

P.K. Ajith Kumar

Sriram Jha posts his maiden win in the tournament

MANGALORE: With just four rounds left, the National ‘A’ chess championship is heading to an interesting finale at the Karnataka Bank Auditorium.

The second-seeded Parimarjan Negi moved into the sole lead after his victory on Friday over Shyam Sundar, but the defending champion Surya Shekhar Ganguly, who was held to a draw by P. Konguvel, is just half-a-point behind and has played a game less.

Negi has now six points from nine games while Ganguly’s 5.5 have come from eight games. Akshayraj Kore, who scored a magnificent win against S. Satyapragyan, and K. Ratnakaran, who held third seed Neelotpal Das, are in the third place with five points apiece. Half-a-point behind them is Deepan Chakravarthy, after he drew, with some bit of luck, with M.S. Thejkumar. The day also saw Sriram Jha posting his maiden win in the tournament, against veteran Praveen Thipsay; and it was an impressive win too.

Playing on the white side of the Open variation of a Spanish Game, Negi made his intentions clear and even offered an exchange sacrifice. Shyam Sundar didn’t accept the offer and he rather chose to blunder a piece on the 20th move and resigned five moves later.

Fourth victory

After posting his fourth victory in the tournament, Negi said he was playing a lot better than he did in his maiden National ‘A’ in Chennai early in the year. “There I had as many as nine draws,” the 15-year-old said with a smile. “Though I am in the lead, I have a relatively tougher draw in the remaining rounds than Ganguly.”

Kore, making his debut at India’s premier domestic tournament, also had reasons to smile after his 32-move victory over Satyapragyan. Playing from the white side of a Sicilian English Attack, the Pune youngster first sacrificed a bishop to win in style.

Thipsay’s pawn sacrifice against Jha didn’t exactly work so well, as the younger man went on to win an exchange and the game in 42 moves.

Konguvel and Ganguly decided to sign after 26 moves of Sicilian Scheveningen. Former champion Konguvel didn’t look too disappointed, as he had black pieces. Deepan, who faced Caro-Kann Defence from Thejkumar, had troubles in a rook-and-pawn ending; but he was bailed out by Thejkumar and, interestingly, only the two kings were on the board when the game ended after 61 moves.

Neelotpal and Ratnakaran drew with their French Defence game in just 17 moves, but not before the latter showing his ability to surprise his higher rated rivals with unusual moves.

The results (ninth round): Parimarjan Negi 6 bt M. Shyam Sundar 3.5; Akshayraj Kore 5 bt S. Satyapragyan 4; J. Deepan Chakravarthy 4.5 drew with M.S. Thejkumar 3.5; Sriram Jha 3.5 bt Praveen Thipsay 3; Surya Shekhar Ganguly 5.5 drew with P. Konguvel 4; Neelotpal Das 3.5 drew with K. Ratnakaran 5; B. Adhiban 3 bye.

10th round pairings: Konguvel v Neelotpal; Thipsay v Ganguly; Thejkumar v Jha; Satyapragyan v Deepan; Shyam v Kore; Adhiban v Negi; Ratnakaran bye.

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