G. Akash of Tamil Nadu held GM Deep Sengupta of Petroleum to a draw in the 13th and concluding round of the Tata 50th National premier chess on Sunday to join the likes of Viswanathan Anand and and Dibyendu Barua in becoming National champion at the age of just 16.
He drove home the advantage of winning a surprise point by default in the 11th round to tally nine points that brought the title. Akash benefited from long-standing leader M.R. Venkatesh of Petroleum becoming the first notable prey of the ‘zero tolerance’ time rule, getting docked a point for arriving four minutes late for his 11th round match. This brought the title in view of the class XI student of computer science in Chennai, and he made full use of the opportunity winning his 12th round match, where he beat a distraught Venkatesh (on being paired again) to take sole lead.
Anand and Barua previously held the honour being the youngest players, at 16, to win the national crown.
“I expected a top-10 finish before the tournament. But when I got the advantage because of the unprecedented happening in the 11th round, I was sensing the title,” said Akash, on winning his first ever national-level chess title.
The title fetched the youngster an IM title, a GM norm, Rs.1.75 lakh in prize money and, most importantly, a chance to represent India in the World Cup.
“I came third in the National challenger (which is a qualifier for this tournament) where I fell from a leading position after losing in the 11th and 13th rounds. But things surprisingly changed in my favour towards the end here when I came from nowhere to win the title,” Akash said.
Three Petroleum players — IM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, GM S. Arun Prasad and GM Deep Sengupta — were tied for the second spot with 8.5 points. But Gujarathi took the runner-up spot on account of having a better progressive score in the Buchholz tie-break system.
Arun Prasad placed third ahead of Sengupta.
The deposed leader Venkatesh accepted a draw early against Arun Prasad in 25 moves t o take the fifth spot.
Final positions: 1. G. Akash (TN) 9 points; 2. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (PSPB) 8.5 (tie-break - 90); 3. S. Arun Prasad (PSPB) 8.5 (88.5); 4. Deep Sengupta (PSPB) 8.5 (86.5); 5. M.R. Venkatesh (PSPB) 8 (93); 6. G.N. Gopal (PSPB) 8 (90.5), 7. B. Adhiban (PSPB) 8 (85); 8. M.R. Lalith Babu (PSPB) 8 (84, 78.5, 54.25); 9. Swayams Mishra (Odi) 8 (84, 78.5, 52.25); 10. J. Deepan Chakkravarthy (TN) 7.5 (90.5).