Superstitious Sriram tastes success again

NAGPUR, JULY 6. The colour of saffron is proving simply divine for Sriram Jha. And his name has nothing to do with it.

This superstitious Delhi-lad wears the same saffron T- shirt round after round with a belief that the hue proves auspicious to him. After 10 rounds of the National `B' chess championship, Sriram's faith stands reinforced. He has emerged as the lone leader of this exhausting competition.

One among the four overnight leaders, Jha broke free on Friday by outwitting M. R. Venkatesh and took his tally to 8.5 points. National junior champion P. Magesh Chandran and Swati Ghate drew their match to stay in the second place with eight points each.

The race for the 12 qualifying slots for the next National `A' championship hotted up with 10 players on 7.5 points and another 17, on seven points each.

Those with 7.5 points include surprise-packet and 58th-ranked Prathamesh Mokal, who handed third seed Sandipan Chanda his second successive defeat.

Notable among those who continued to be in reckoning, despite indifferent form in the early phase, are V. Saravanan, S. Vijayalakshmi and Neelotpal Das, seed four, five and six. The trio forms part of the bunch at seven points.

After throwing up friendly draws in the two previous rounds, the top board produced a hard-fought decisive battle with Jha coming on top. Jha, playing white, was comfortably placed right through this contest. It was Venkatesh who made it delightful for his rival when he chose a strategically incorrect exchange of the bright-squared bishops. Jha made the most of the resultant position and went on to post a victory in clinical fashion.

Contrasting draws

However, the next four boards produced draws in quite contrasting ways. R. B. Ramesh took no risks with the black pieces and drew with Vishal Sareen in just six moves. The positional battle between Magesh Chandran and Swati ended in a tame draw though the latter did look better placed in the opening phase. Swati made a draw-offer but the acceptance from Magesh came a few moves later.

The battle between two Indian Airlines colleagues - ninth seed S. Satypapragyan and C. S. Gokhale - was well-fought before the peace-treaty was signed with the former looking in a superior position. Same was the result of a dull and long encounter between Varugeese Koshy and Kiran Panditrao on the fifth board.

Earlier, second seed G. B. Prakash and 17th-ranked N. Sanjay scored over Saurabh Kherdekar and Atanu Lahiri, respectively, to tally 7.5 points.

Significantly, barring the Sareen-Ramesh encounter, all the leading boards witnessed keen battles. Since only a few players appear in a position to qualify at this stage, a very large number of contenders see no point in taking a short draw at this stage.

The results:

10th round: Sriram Jha (8.5) bt M. R. Venkatesh (7.5); P. Magesh Chandran (8) drew with Swati Ghate (8); Vishal Sareen (7.5) drew with R. B. Ramesh (7.5); S. Satyapragyan (7.5) drew with C. S. Gokhale (7.5); Varugeese Koshy (7) drew with Kiran Panditrao (7.5); Saurabh Kherdekar (6.5) lost to G. B. Prakash (7.5); Prathamesh Mokal (7.5) bt Sandipan Chanda (6.5); B. T. Murali Krishnan (7) drew with S. Kidambi (7); Atanu Lahiri (6.5) lost to N. Sanjay (7.5); Dinesh Sharma (7) drew with Gurpreet Pal Singh (7).

K. Ratnakaran (7) drew with Lanka Ravi (7); Anirban Guha Roy (6.5) lost to N. Sudhakar Babu (7.5); S. Vijayalakshmi (7) bt Ketan Boricha (6.5); V. Saravanan (7) bt Shashikant Kutwal (6); Neelotpal Das (7) bt R. Bala Subramanium (6); Pankaj Joshi (6.5) drew with T. S. Ravi (6.5); Suvrajit Saha (7) bt Santosh Kumar Sinha (6); Sekhar Sahu (6) lost to Vikramaditya Kamble (7); Shankar Roy (7) bt J. Ramakrishna (6); B. S. Shivananda (7) bt Rahul Shetty (6).

D. P. Singh (7) w.o. T. V. Karthikeyan (6); M. Srinivasa Rao (6) lost to Vedant Goswami (7); K. V. Shantaram (6.5) drew with Prasenjit Dutta (6.5); Siddharth (6) lost to Ravi Kumar (7); Nassir Wajih (5.5) lost to Amardeep Bartakke (6.5); Ebenezer Joseph (5.5) lost to Satchidanand Soman (6.5); N. Neelakanthan (6) drew with Jayant Gokhale (6); Deepan Chakravarthi (6) drew with Nirav Rajasuba (6); Ramakrishna Kashlekar (5.5) lost to Roktim Bandopadhyaya (6.5); Surender Sharma (5.5) lost to S. K. Rathod (6.5).

S. Ram Krishnan (6.5) bt R. S. Gupta (5.5); Ashwani Tiwari (6) drew with Y. Kalyan Kumar (6); G. Balaji (5.5) lost to Preetham R. Sharma (6.5); Dilip Das (5.5) lost to Anupama Gokhale (6.5); S. Meenakshi (5.5) lost to Rohan Shandilya (6.5); Krishan Soni (5.5) lost to Arghyadip Das (6.5); Aksharaj Kore (5.5) lost to Manthan Chokshi (6.5); Anup Deshmukh (5) lost to G. C. Mohapatra (6.5); Sharad Tilak (5.5) drew with Vikas Sharma (5.5); Nasir Ali (5) lost to Saptarshi Roy (6).

G. B. Joshi (5.5) drew with Pranjal Das (5.5); Arjun Tiwari (5) lost to Nisha Mohota (6); Manish Joshi (6) bt G. Rohit (5); Manoj Mishra (6) bt Prasanna Iyer (5); Pramod Kumar Singh (6) bt Abhishekh Srivastava (5); D. Ravishankar (5) lost to Praveen Saxena (6); Tania Sachdev (5.5) drew with Manas Ranjan Parida (5.5); M. K. Panigrahi (6) bt Ishmeet Singh (5); Virender Singh Negi (6) bt Y. Pratibha (5); Deep Sengupta (6) bt Yashodhan Gogte (5).