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Nguyen in sole lead

By Rakesh Rao

BIKANER, DEC. 23. Leading seeds in the boys' section were made to go slow but girls' joint leaders Dronavalli Harika and Vietnam's Hoang Thi Bao Tram remained on the fast track after three rounds of the Asian junior chess championship here on Thursday.

With the top three boards, featuring Indians, ending with honours even, Vietnam's Nguyen Van Huy made the most of the situation and beat Akshayraj Kore to end the day as the first sole leader with three points.

S. Arun Prasad, the Asian under-16 champion, did not allow M.R. Venkatesh any liberty in an English Opening.

In the listless Hedgehog variation, that usually leads to draw between players of equal strength and awareness, Venkatesh could do little with black pieces and accepted the draw offer after the 15th move.

A slightly indisposed Abhijeet Gupta, who scored his second victory in the three encounters against G. Rohit earlier in the day, settled for a 13-move draw with white pieces against Poobesh Anand.

Unlike this short draw, the match involving former champion Deepan Chakkravarthy and Arghyadip Das went into the fourth hour.

Top seed Anton Fillipov recovered from the first round loss and scored two victories.

Mesgen Amanov, the youngster who hit the headlines on the first day for beating Fillipov, lost to Arun Prasad but returned to hold Gopal in an even battle.

Harika beats Saheli

Among the girls, Harika overwhelmed Saheli, the conqueror of defending champion Y. Prathiba in the morning, in 40 moves.

The World under-14 girls' champion claimed a bishop in the middle game and went on to checkmate her rival.

Hoang took a longer route to nail National junior champion Kruttika Nadig.

The small-made Vietnamese gained two pawns in the middle game and added another in the process of setting up a lethal attack on the queen's side with her doubled rooks, a strategically placed bishop and an advanced pawn. After that, Kruttika managed to exchange one of the rooks and stretched the contest to 48 moves.

N. Raghavi, last year's National junior champion, capitalised on a blunder by Mary Ann Gomes and remained half a point behind the leaders.

The results (Indians unless stated):

Boys: Third round: S. Arun Prasad (2.5) drew with M.R. Venkatesh (2.5); Abhijeet Gupta (2.5) drew with S. Poobesh Anand (2.5); Deepan Chakkravarty (2.5) drew with Arghyadip Das (2.5); Nguyen Van Huy (Vie) (3) bt Akshayraj Kore (2); Anton Filippov (Uzb) (2) bt Soumitra Mujumdar (1); Bahodir Kholmirzaev (Uzb) (2) bt G. Rohit (1); G.N. Gopal (1.5) drew with Mesgen Amanov (Tkm) (1.5); Johan Iskandar (Mal) (1) lost to Sriram Sarja (2); Mehdi Hasan (Ban) (2) bt Raveen Thrimavitharana (Sri) (1); Raushan Jaiswal (Nep) (1) lost to Nurdin Samakov (Krz) (2); M.V. Lakshminarayanan (1) drew with Abhyudaya Rajpurohit (1); K. Nikhilesh Kumar (1) drew with T.U. Navin Kanna (0.5); Faudzi Kamal Firdaus (Mal) (1) bt Kartikay Batra (0); Niyazglych Niyazov (Tkm) (1) bye.

Second round: Venkatesh bt Gopal; Rohit lost to Abhijeet; Sarja lost to Deepan; Poobesh bt Mehdi Hasan; Amanov lost to Prasad; Das bt Kholmirzaev; Thrimavitharana lost to Nguyen; Kanna lost to Filippov; Kore bt Fidaus; Rajpurohit drew with Nikhilesh; Samakov drew with Lakshminarayanan; Mujumdar bt Niyazov; Batra lost to Iskandar; Jaiswal w/o Wahab Ahmad (Pak).

Girls: Third round: D. Harika (3) bt Saheli Nath (2); Kruttika Nadig (2) lost to Hoang Thi Bao Tram (Vie) (3); N. Raghavi (2.5) bt Mary Ann Gomes (1.5); P. Priya (2) drew with Siti Zulaikha (Mal) (2); Y. Prathiba (2) bt N. Sandhya (1); Bahar Hallaeva (Tkm) (2) bt Samanthi Wettasinghe (Sri) (1); U.G.Y. Methmali (Sri) (1) lost to Soumya Swaminathan (2); P. Sivasankari (1) drew with Irina Gevergyan (Uzb) (1.5); H. Sowmya (1.5) bt Amruta Mokal (0.5); Nabeela Farheen (0.5) lost to J.E. Kavitha (1.5); Maya Kurbanova (Tkm) (1) bt Janyl Tilenbaeva (Krg) (0.5); Anuprieta Patil (1) bye.

Second round: Soumya lost to Harika; Hoang bt Bahar; Saheli bt Prathiba; Mary drew with Priya; Samanthi lost to Kruttika; Siti drew with Raghavi; Sandhya bt Anuprieta; Janyl drew with Sivasankari; Amruta drew with Nabeela; Irina bt Maya; Kavitha drew with Sowmya; Methmali bye.

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