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Venkatesh joins the leaders

VIJAYAWADA, JUNE 23. International Master M.R. Venkatesh of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board joined overnight leaders Sriram Jha of LIC and B.S. Sivanandan of Karnataka at the top of the tables with a fine positional victory over M. Srinivasa Rao of Andhra Pradesh in the ninth round of the 42nd National `B' Chess championship here on Wednesday.

The three leaders took their tally to 7.5 points out of a possible nine after Jha and Sivanandan agreed for a draw in a complex position.

In joint fourth spot are Sunder Rajan Kidambi of PSPB, D. Harika of Andhra Pradesh, Abhijit Gupta of Rajasthan, R.R. Laxman of Tamil Nadu and Nassir Wajih of Delhi with seven points each in this qualification event to the next National `A' championship.

With just four rounds remaining, as many as 24 players are next in the standing list with 6.5 points apiece.

Defending champion Grandmaster R.B. Ramesh of PSPB was held to a draw by Rishipal Singh of AP. The story on the top boards was similar to that in the previous round and amongst the top fifteen boards only five produced a decisive result.

Coming up trumps with his natural piece play was Venkatesh who made merry thanks to a rather dubious plan adopted by M. Srinivasa Rao.

The latter fell prey to a subtle opening idea with his black pieces. It was a closed Sicilian wherein Venkatesh won a pawn and went for merciless slaughter in the middle game.

Jha initially turned down a draw offer by Sivanandan who played black. However in the Grunfeld defence the LIC man missed out on a simple manoeuvre that helped Sivanandan maintain the balance. The peace treaty was soon signed.

The day belonged to Valay Parikh, who capitalised on a blunder by Woman Grandmaster S. Vijayalakshmi, to move within striking distance for a berth in the `A' championship. .

Former champion Nassir Wajih turned the tables on IM Dinesh Kumar of LIC in a clearly inferior position arising out of a Benoni defence game.

Having turned down a peace proposal, Sharma took too much time in the middle game and even though he had an extra piece, a blunder in the closing stages of the first time control cost him dearly.

Important results (round nine): Sriram Jha (7.5) drew with B.S. Sivanandan (7.5); M.R. Venkatesh (7.5) bt M. Srinivasa Rao (6.5); D. Harika (7) drew with Abhijit Gupta (7); P.D.S. Girinath (6.5) lost to S. Kidambi (7); S. Vijayalakshmi (6) lost to Valay Parikh (7); Roktim Bandyopadhyay (6.5) drew with Vishal Sareen (6.5); R.R. Laxman (7) bt Himanshu Sharma (6); S. Roy Chowdhury (6.5) drew with T.S. Ravi (6.5); Suvrajit Saha (6.5) drew with V. Saravanan (6.5); S. Arun Prasad (6.5) drew with S. Poobesh Anand (6.5); Dinesh Kumar Sharma (6) lost to Nassir Wajih (7); Prathamesh Mokal (6.5) drew with N.K. Mishra (6.5); K. Ramu (6.5) drew with Rahul Shetty (6.5); Lanka Ravi (6) drew with Deepan Chakravarthy (6); Rishipal Singh (6) drew with R.B. Ramesh (6); G.B. Prakash (6.5) bt G.B. Joshi (5.5); Arindam Mukherjee (6) drew with P. Konguvel (6); J. Ramakrishna (6) drew with C.S. Gokhale (6); V. Koshy (5.5) lost to Swati Ghate (6.5); Somak Palit (5.5) lost to Yogesh Gore (6.5); J.S. Gokhale (6) drew with G. Rohit (6); Arjun D. Tiwari (5.5) lost to Saptarshi Roy (6.5); Gurpreet Pal Singh (5.5) lost to D.P. Singh (6.5); Vikramaditya Kamble (6.5) bt Aakash Thakur (5.5); Arghyadip Das (6.5) bt Ram S. Krishnan (5.5); S. Meenakshi (5.5) lost to Vinod Sharma (6.5); Arvind Shastry (5.5) lost to Kiran Pandit Rao (6.5); Puneet Jaiswal (6) drew with Nisha Mohota (6); Sharad Tilak (6) drew with V. Somesh (6). — PTI

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