Deepan and Lalith begin well

Creditable show:Arghyadip Das, left, shared the honours with Aravindh Chithambaram in the first round.Rakesh Rao  

Sometimes, a draw against a stronger player feels better than scoring over a lesser-rated rival. Playing black, Arghyadip Das felt that way as he proved equal to second seed Aravindh Chithambaram, rated 139 points higher, in the last encounter to finish on the opening day of the Khadi India National chess championship here.

After M. R. Lalith Babu and Deepan Chakkravarthy began their campaigns by posting victories with white pieces and other games ended as draws, the Aravindh-Araghyadip battle hung in balance.

Aravindh, not known to push the queen-pawn to start a game, chose to go against the popular perception. But once he faced the response in the form of Cambridge Springs Defence of Queen’s Gambit Declined, the youngster was perplexed.

For the 16th move, the second seed took around 30 minutes and finally pushed a central pawn. Thereafter, following a series of exchanges, Aravindh had a extra pawn with in an endgame involving two minor pieces each.

Here, Arghyadip used his twin-bishop advantage well, saw a line where he offered another pawn with an eye to clean up Aravindh’s dark squared pawns. By this time, Aravindh left with less than a minute on his clock. Before the 47th move, Aravindh wasted no time in offering a draw which Arghyadip gleefully accepted.

In contrast, the clash involving Indian Oil colleagues defending champion M. Karthikeyan and former champion Abhijit Kunte ended in just 14 moves following a three-fold repetition of the position.

Afterwards, the day's two decisive battles produced winners from the white side. Deepan Chakkravarthy, the reigning National Challengers’ champion seized an opportunity against Railway teammate in their Sicilian

Defence game. Himanshu played aggressively to the extent that he deemed it fit to push his king to the middle of the board.

Deepan smartly managed to establish a connected passed pawns on the queenside and just when he was a move away from getting his ‘queen’ back on the board, Himanshu resigned.

Lalith was in control of the Catalan game against S. Nitin. The sustained pressure from the Grandmaster saw Nitin consume precious time in finding the suitable continuation. However, once Lalith planted his rook deep into Nitin’s territory, with queen and bishop on strategic squares, Nitin gave up in 44 moves.

The results: First round: Deepan Chakkravarthy bt Himanshu Sharma in 35 moves; M.R. Lalith Babu bt S. Nitin in 44 moves; Aravindh Chithambaram drew with Arghyadip Das in 46 moves; Abhijit Kunte drew with M. Karthikeyan in 14 moves; Sammed Shete drew with Debashis Das in 29 moves; R. R. Laxman drew with Swapnil Dhopade in 40 moves; S. L. Narayanan drew with P. Shyaam Nikhil in 60 moves.

Second-round pairings: Dhopade-Nitin; Shyaam-Babu; Himanshu-Narayanan; Debashis-Deepan; Arghyadip-Shete; Karthikeyan-Aravindh; Laxman-Kunte.