A rare defeat for title-aspirant K. Sasikiran may have pushed an off-form Parimarjan Negi’s third loss into the background but paved the way for M.R. Lalith Babu to bounce back into the lead after a dramatic ninth round of the Jain 51st National chess championship here on Thursday.
B. Adhiban scripted his first victory over Sasikiran to take the spotlight from fellow-Chennai Grandmaster Vishnu Prasanna who handed out a crushing loss to Negi.
The defeat for the top two seeds was followed by a deserving victory for Lalith, who overpowered a fighting Ashwin Jayaram.
Without doubt, resolve was the common thread that ran through the victories for Lalith, Adhiban and Vishnu since these GMs had lost the previous round.
For the record, the sequence of results saw Lalith turn the overnight half-point deficit to Sasikiran into a half-point lead at 7.5 points.
Adhiban reinforced his third spot at 6.5 points. A fortuitous Deepan Chakkravarthy survived against Debashis Das before he was joined by a victorious Thej Kumar at six points.
Playing white, Adhiban faced Sasikiran’s Queen’s Indian Defence where both players stuck to the tested theory till the 10th move.
Sasikiran sacrificed a rook for a knight on the 15th move and introduced an element of intrigue into the game.
A little later, Adhiban saw an interesting plan and offered his knight to trigger off a series of exchanges and retained the advantage of a rook for a bishop. Soon, Sasikiran erred on the 33rd and 35th moves and resigned two moves later.
All this while, Lalith was looking good to encash on an extra queenside pawn, gained due to an oversight from Ashwin on the sixth move. But Ashwin kept Lalith worried with some active play.
A display of patience and good defence saw Lalith seize the initiative when Ashwin was under acute pressure to complete 40 moves in 90 minutes. He gradually pressed home the advantage of an extra pawn with some active kingside play in 56 moves.
Ninth round: B. Adhiban (6.5) bt K. Sasikiran (7); Lalith Babu (7.5) bt Ashwin Jayaram (5); Deepan Chakkravarthy (6) drew with Debashis Das (4); Thej Kumar (6) bt Akshat Khamparia (3); Vishnu Prasanna (4) bt Parimarjan Negi (3.5); P. Shyamnikhil (3.5) drew with G. Akash (2); K. Ratnakaran (2) drew with G. A. Stany (3).