Praneetha stuns Kasturi

Lakshmi Praneatha of Champions Chess Academy, Guntur, pondering her next move against M. Kasturi of Tamil Nadu, in the fourth round of the 27th National team chess championship in Vijayawada on Thursday.

Lakshmi Praneatha of Champions Chess Academy, Guntur, pondering her next move against M. Kasturi of Tamil Nadu, in the fourth round of the 27th National team chess championship in Vijayawada on Thursday.  

VIJAYAWADA JUNE 26. Even as some of the big names of Indian chess were battling it out on the top-boards, 12-year-old Lakshmi Praneetha of Champions Chess Academy (Vijayawada) seemed to be determined to prove a point or two of her growing reputation by causing the major upset of the day — outwitting the former Asian junior champion and the only IWM, M. Kasturi of Tamil Nadu in the fourth round of the Servo Indian Oil 27th National team chess championship here on Thursday.

In a Philidorf Defence, Praneetha, winner of the Asian under-12 title in Kozhikode recently, got early advantage only to squander it by the 16th move, when she played Bb7, which saw her lose a piece.

However, the eighth standard student of the Sri Venkateshwara Bala Kuteer (Guntur) found the right combinations to attack the rival's kingside.

With a very strong centre, Praneetha had the liberty to attack. Once she slipped into time pressure, Kasturi made a tactical error playing Nh5 on the 35th move and then follwed it up with another dubious one of b3 on the 37th move, which saw her bishop blocked.

After that it was a quite easy for Praneetha, though CCA lost to Tamil Nadu Chess Academy 1.5-2.5.

On the top boards, Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) continued to lead the pack with 14.5 points as it scored a convincing, 3.5-0.5 win over South Central Railway with GM Krishnan Sasikiran, British Open champion R.B. Ramesh and Sandeepan Chanda outwitting their rivals and S. Kidambi settling for a draw against G.C.S. Bharti.

The game between Krishnan Sasikiran and the local hero, P.D.S. Girinath drew lot of attention.

In the Dutch Opening, by the 15th move, the Grandmaster was surprised to see his position badly cramped and his a7-g1 diagonal weak. Then Girinath faltered by missing e4 in the middle-game.

Though his f4 gave him the space and attacking chances, Girinath's d5 pawn had become weak and even exposed the king. In the post-game analysis, Girinath felt he could have avoided f x g 3 and preferred the safer g x h3.

Players of the calibre of Sasikiran don't let go such opportunities and he quite expectedly came back strongly to wrap up the game in a rook-pawn ending.

In another game on the same board, Ramesh, with black, outwitted J. Ramakrishna in a Sicilian Closed Grandprix. Once the Railway player had made a bad move (Ng3), his opponent got the edge and another passive 22nd move (Qg4) further weakened the position.

In a clever manoeuvre, Ramesh exchanged all the major pieces to be a pawn up in the end-game and wrapped up the game comfortably.

Interestingly, the Tamil Nadu team of IM V. Saravanan, M.R. Venkatesh, P. Konguvel and K. Visweswaran marched on silently with an impressive 3.5-0.5 win against Maharashtra.

Saravanan led the show with a 47-move win over D. Ravishankar in French Defence, Winawar Variation. From a complicated position, the Maharashtra player made things easier for the higher-rated opponent with a hasty pawn push — h5.

This enabled Saravanan to control the g5 square and capture the h5 pawn too. After that, there was no difficulty for Saravanan to clinch the issue.

On the other board, IM-norm holder Visweswaran got the better of Prasanna Iyer in Sicilian Dragon Variation.

With a thematic attack on h5 and thanks to his rival's misplaced queen, Visweswaran took control, even winning him a piece, of the board and of the match subsequently.

In another game, in Sicilian Pelikan Variation, Venkatesh was held to a draw by A. Thakur. Though Venkatesh won a pawn he soon blundered but recovered well to settle for a draw in rook and bishop ending.

Konguvel didn't have any hiccups as he outplayed P. Dodeja in Sicilian Najdorff. Once white had played g4 which exposed the king, Konguvel seized on the chance with his d5. This activitated his pieces to win some pawns and the game too.

At the end of the fourth round, PSPB leads the table with 14.5 points followed by Indian Airlines with 13 and Tamil Nadu with 12.5.

The results (fourth round): PSPB (14.5) bt South Central Railway (11); Hyderabad (9.5) lost to Indian Airlines (13); Maharashtra (9) lost to Tamil Nadu (12.5); TNCA `B' (9.5) lost to Bank Sports Board `A' (11); BSB 'B' (9.5) lost to Services (10.5); Chess Academy, Jharkhand (7.5) lost to Space Chess Academy, Vij, (11.5); Alekhine CC, Kolkata, (8.5) lost to AP Sub-juniors (9); BK Trust, Pune (9.5) bt Champion CA, Vij, (7.5); Gujarat (9) bt Challenging Knights, Mumbai, (7); Anita Chess Academy `A', Vij, (8) bt Gudiwada (7); Guntur (7.5) bt BSNL, Delhi (7.5); Anupama Chess Academy, Vij (6.5) lost to West Bengal (8); Tirumala Chess Mate (7) drew with J & K (7); Rising Stars, B'lore (6) lost to Punjab (7.5); Jayapradha CA, Vij (5) lost to Vijayawada Sub-juniors (7); Anitha Chess Academy, Vij (4.5) lost to Rama CA, Vij (7.5); APCA (0), Vij (3) lost to APCA, Vij (4.5); T. Nagar CA, Vij (2) drew with Servo APCA, Vij (3).

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