Four new faces in the Indian teamHarika remains undefeated
VALSAD: Contrasting deadlocks on the top five boards gave Surya Shekhar Ganguly his fourth straight National crown and brought in four new faces in the Indian team as the final day of the Atul National `A' chess championship served another reminder of the changing order.
Runner-up Deepan Chakkravarthy was the only other Grandmaster in the six-member National squad after S. Arun Prasad, G. Rohit, Suvrajit Saha and G.N. Gopal made the grade. Interestingly, the average age of the team members is 21!
The magnitude of achievements of these players could be gauged from the fact that seasoned Grandmasters and former National champions Abhijit Kunte, Dibyendu Barua and Pravin Thipsay failed well short of expectations after running into much younger rivals on this day.
The 23-year-old Ganguly overcame the early aggression of fellow Grandmaster Neelotpal Das to come out undefeated in 27 moves. Neelotpal needed a win to join the Indian team, but Ganguly defended well. The result raised Ganguly's tally to 9.5 points and saw him retain the title he won at Visakhapatnam in April this year.
"I needed this victory to boost my confidence ahead of some tough tournaments I plan to play," said the champion, an Assistant Manager with the Indian Oil in Kolkata.
"My work with Alexei Shirov has clearly helped and I wanted to show that I could win without ever being in serious threat in this tough competition," said Ganguly who received Rs. 67,000 and a trophy.
Harika, who turns 16 next month, may have missed a berth in the National team, but achieved a unique feat by becoming the first woman ever to remain undefeated in the championship.
She won two games and drew 11 for a tally of 7.5 points for an impressive 10th place. A spot ahead of Harika was Saptarshi, who too, was unbeaten following three wins and 10 draws.
The results (13th round): Neelotpal Das (8) drew with S.S. Ganguly (9.5); Deepan Chakkravarthy (8.5) drew with G. Rohit (8); S. Arun Prasad (8.5) drew with Suvrajit Saha (8); D. Harika (7.5) drew with Abhijit Kunte (8); G.N. Gopal (8) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (7.5); Dibyendu Barua (7) lost to Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (8); B.T. Murali Krishnan (7.5) bt Diwakar Prasad Singh (6.5); Pravin Thipsay (6.5) lost to Prathamesh Mokal (7.5); S. Kidambi (7.5) bt Ashwin Jayaram (6.5); Somak Palit (7) drew with K. Ratnakaran (7); Syed Shazuli (6.5) lost to Deep Sengupta (7.5); V. Saravanan (6.5) drew with M.R. Venkatesh (6.5); Lanka Ravi (6.5) drew with Tejas Bakre (6.5); Poobesh Anand (7) bt Sudhakar Babu (6); Abhishek Das (6) drew with R.B. Ramesh (6); P. Konguvel (6.5) bt P.D.S. Girinath (5.5); Vikramaditya Kamble (5.5) lost to Valay Parikh (6.5); T. S. Ravi (6) drew with M.S. Thej Kumar (6); G.B. Prakash (5.5) drew with Roktim Bandyopadhyay (5.5); Swapnil Dhopade (5) lost to Himanshu Sharma (6); R.R. Laxman (5) drew with Varugeese Koshy (5); Sudhir Sinha (3) lost to Swati Ghate (5.5); Eesha Karavade (5.5) bye.
Final standings (top-15 with prize-money): 1. Ganguly (Rs. 67,000), 2-3. Deepan (50,000) and Arun (31,000), 4-9. Rohit (24,000), Saha (20,000), Gopal (16,000), Kunte (11,000), Neelotpal (9,000) and Saptarshi (8,000), 10-15. Harika (7,000), Abhijeet (6,000), Deep (5,000), Mokal (4,000), Murali Krishnan (3,000) and Kidambi (2,000).