Harika back in the reckoning

Dronavalli Harika (right) in deep thought against J.E. Kavitha in the National chess `A' championship in Mumbai on Tuesday. — Photo: Vivek Bendre

Dronavalli Harika (right) in deep thought against J.E. Kavitha in the National chess `A' championship in Mumbai on Tuesday. — Photo: Vivek Bendre  

Mumbai Jan. 28. India's latest WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy (7.5) of Wipro beat R. Sai Meera (1.5) of Banks' Sports Board to share the lead with IWM Nisha Mohota (7.5) of LIC after the 10th round of the National women's `A' chess championship here on Tuesday.

At the end of the 17th round of men's section, GM K. Sasikiran (14) of ONGC has scored a record 12 wins in 16 games he has played so far. GM P. Harikrishna (12) of Wipro has cemented his second position by a lead of one and half points over the others.

On the women's front, defending champion WGM S. Vijayalakshmi (6.5) of Indian Airlines went down to archrival Swathi Ghate (6) of LIC in one of the most absorbing games of the championship.

The baby of this championship, 12-year-old Dronavali Harika (6) of Wipro came back into the reckoning with a convincing win over J.E. Kavitha (TN) in a Queen's Indian Defence.

Sasikiran was well prepared to meet Surya Sekhar Ganguly in Queen's Gambit Accepted - considered to be the home turf of the latter. Both followed established theory till move 14 where Sasikiran deviated with his home cooked 14) Bf4.

"I found out that move today morning," Sasi informed his rival after the game.

Ganguly threw caution to the wind and went all out for attack. His apparently well-placed pieces were not so effective in the Kingside offensive as Sasikiran's queen danced around, parrying the threats to its king.

Sasi returned Ganguly's sacrifices at the appropriate moment and Ganguly resigned on 52nd move when he saw Sasi's pawn getting promoted to the queening square. Sasi outwitted his ONGC colleague IM Lanka Ravi (8) in one of the three decisive games of the evening.

Harikrishna kept the chase going by scoring a trademark win over Prathamesh Mokal in a nicely played endgame. IM Sriram Jha's attack in the centre proved to be too hot for Satyapragyan to handle.

Kidambi lets off Barua

IM S. Kidambi let GM Dibyendu Barua off the hook after completely dominating the veteran GM in Semi Slav Defence. Barua defended the endgame well and obtained a draw. "At one time Kidambi could have exchanged the queens and I thought I was gone then," confessed Barua after the game.

Saptarishi Roy Choudhary (Metro Rail, Kolkata) outwitted in-form M.R. Venkatesh (BPCL) to move closer to his 20-game IM norm. Chief Arbiter Mr. Chatterjee announced that Saptarishi has completed the formalities of 16 game norm with this win. Venkatesh needs one and half point to reach the 20 game norm.

Nisha Mohota picked up a pawn in the Semi Slav opening but it proved to be too hot to maintain. "I knew that Nisha had to give it back," explained Meenakshi. When Nisha realised that her position would get more and more cramped, she gave back the pawn and the game was agreed drawn immediately.

Aarthie was involved in a complicated struggle arising out of Grand Prix Attack in Sicilian Defence against Sai Meera. With safety of both the kings compromised, Aarthie managed to win a piece in middle game and converted the material in full point with precise play.

Swathi, who had not been playing well till date in this tournament, struck form at the crucial moment as she attacked with gusto from the white side of Spanish Opening against Vijas. Viji relied heavily on her queenside play but Swathi's attack on the black king was faster. She broke through the black citadel and soon her battery of queen, rook and bishop forced a checkmate.

The results: Men (round 17): R.B. Ramesh [7.5] drew with V. Saravanan [4], Saptarishi Roy Chowdhury [8.5] drew with Arvind Shastry [6.5], Neelotpal Das [9] drew with M.R. Venkatesh [9], Prathamesh S. Mokal [5] lost to P. Harikrishna [12], Surya Sekhar Ganguly [9] drew with Tejas Bakre [8], Lanka Ravi [8] lost to K. Sasikiran [14], Dibyendu Barua [10.5] drew with Praveen M Thipsay [8], G.B. Prakash [8] drew with S. Kidambi [8.5], Saha Suvrajit [6.5] drew with Satchidanand Soman [5], Sriram Jha [6] bt S. Satyapragyan [7], Abhijit Kunte [10.5] Bye.

Round 16: S. Satyapragyan [7] drew with Saha Suvrajit [6], Satchidanand Soman [4.5] lost to G.B. Prakash [7.5], S. Kidambi [8] drew with Dibyendu Barua [10], Praveen M Thipsay [7.5] drew with Lanka Ravi [8], K. Sasikiran [13] bt S.S. Ganguly [8.5], Tejas Bakre [7.5] lost to Prathamesh S. Mokal [5], P. Harikrishna [11] drew with Neelotpal Das [8.5], M.R. Venkatesh [8.5] lost to S. Chowdhury [8], Arvind Shastry [6] bt R.B. Ramesh [6.5], V. Saravanan [3.5] drew with Abhijit Kunte [10.5], Sriram Jha [5] bye.

Women (round 10): Y. Pratibha [4] lost to Tania Sachdev [5.5], Krutika Nadig [2] drew with Swati Mohota [2], Swathi Ghate [5] bt S. Vijayalakshmi [6.5], Nisha Mohota [7.5] drew with S. Meenakshi [5.5], D. Harika [6] bt J.E. Kavitha [2], Sai Meera [1.5] lost to Aarthie Ramaswamy [7.5], Eesha Karavade [5] bye.

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