SPORT

Saha inching towards title

JALANDHAR OCT. 5. Suvrajit Saha inched closer to his maiden National `B' chess title and led a pack of eight certain qualifiers at the end of the 12th and penultimate round of the National `B' chess championship at the PAP Complex hall here on Saturday.

Saha, following a 10-move draw with Aravinda Shastri, took his tally to 9.5 points. He now needs a similar result in the final round against Lanka Ravi to emerge as a deserving champion.

S. Kidambi, G. B. Prakash, Neelotpal Das, Shastri, Prathamesh Mokal, Tejas Bakre and Lanka Ravi — all with nine points — now find themselves a draw away from qualifying for the next National `A'.

Though Saptarshi Roy also has nine points, he will be looking for a victory over Neelotpal on Sunday since any other result will put him out due to his inferior progressive score.

For the remaining four qualifying slots, Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury, S. Satyapragyan, Dinesh Kumar Sharma, Sandipan Chanda, Satchidanand Soman, G. Rohith, N. Sanjay, S. Poobesh Anand and Ravi Hegde — with 8.5 points but placed in that order due to their progressive scores so far — are in contention. It remains to be seen who all make it.

On Saturday, Bakre, Lanka Ravi and Venkatesh confirmed their places among the qualifiers with resounding victories. Bakre foiled the aggressive designs of Anup Deshmukh, Lanka Ravi produced another fighting performance to advance at the expense of Atanu Lahiri before Venkatesh ended the dream-run of Amit Kumar Medda.

Neelotpal easily defeated K. Ramu to enhance his chances. Top seed Sandipan Chanda, who is not sure of qualifying even after winning the final round, prevailed over Vikramaditya Kamble.

Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury and G. Rohith missed golden opportunities to move within a draw of attaining qualification. Chowdhury let Dinesh Kumar Sharma off the hook and had to settle for a draw. Similarly, Rohith made a mess of his winning chances against Satyapragyan before gaining another half a point.

The Rohith-Satyapragyan match also witnessed a faulty clock almost deciding the verdict in favour of the former. Satyapragyan, in time-pressure, had about 42 seconds to make a couple of moves while approaching the first time-control. However, to his utter disbelief, the remaining time jumped to 17 seconds and moments later came down to just five!

A totally flabbergasted Satyapragyan sought the assistance of the chief arbiter, Ms. Ambica Kutty, who later added five seconds to his clock. By this time, however, Satyapragyan was facing defeat having lost two pawns in his hurry to complete 40 moves. Mercifully for Satyapragyan, he managed a draw as Rohith's inexperience let him down in the final moments.

The results of the day also ensured that none of the players seeking to retain their places in the next National `A' remained in contention. With D. V. Prasad, C. S. Gokhale, B. T. Muralikrishna, Neeraj Kumar Mishra, Varugeese Koshy, N. Sudhakar Babu already out of reckoning, the chances of Vishal Sareen and P. Konguvel also vanished today. Sareen was held by Vivek Kumar Shukla after Konguvel lost to N. Sanjay.

However, with all the excitement centred around the qualification race, Abhijeet Gupta's creditable draw with third seed Roktim Bandyopadhyay was pushed to the background.

The results (12th round): Aravinda Shastri (9) drew with Suvrajit Saha (9.5); Prathamesh Mokal (9) drew with G. B. Prakash (9); Saptarshi Roy (9) drew with S. Kidambi (9); Anup Deshmukh (8) lost to Tejas Bakre (9); Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (8.5) drew with Dinesh Kumar Sharma (8.5); Lanka Ravi (9) bt Atanu Lahiri (8); G. Rohith (8.5) drew with S. Satyapragyan (8.5); M. R. Venkatesh (9) bt Amit Kumar Medda (8); K. Ramu (8) lost to Neelotpal Das (9); Sandipan Chanda (8.5) bt Vikramaditya Kamble (7.5); S. Poobesh Anand (8.5) bt T. S. Ravi (7.5); N. Sanjay (8.5) bt P. Konguvel (7.5); Satchidanand Soman (8.5) bt K. Ratnakaran (7.5); Vivek Kumar Shukla (8) drew with Vishal Sareen (8); Ravi Hegde (8.5) bt Shankar Roy (7.5); Roktim Bandyopadhyay (7.5) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (7.5); Sayantan Dutta (7) lost to D. V. Prasad (8); M. Srinivasa Rao (7.5) drew with C. S. Gokhale (7.5); N. Sudhakar Babu (7.5) drew with Ravi Kumar (7.5); Nassir Wajih (8) bt Apollosana Mangang (7); P. Phoobalan (8) bt Jayant Gokhale (7); Preetham Sharma (8) bt G. Balaji (7); S. K. Rathore (7) lost to Deepan Chakkravarthy (8); Somak Palit (7) lost to Vikas Sharma (8); Arindam Mukherjee (8) bt K. Visweswaran (7); A. Sankar (7) lost to Sharad Tilak (8); K. Gunasekharan (7.5) drew with Valay Parikh (7.5); Rajesh Agarwal (8) bt Shashikant Kutwal (7); Moti Ram (6.5) lost to Rahul Shetty (7.5); C. Praveen Kumar (6.5) lost to Neeraj Kumar Mishra (7.5); Utpal Baruah (6.5) lost to Pankaj Joshi (7.5); B. V. Prakash (7) drew with Varugeese Koshy (7); R. R. Laxman (7.5) bt Deepak Rajput (6.5); C. J. Arvind (7.5) bt Pratik Shriwas (6.5); C. Natarajan (7) drew with Krishan Soni (7); Rakesh Agarwal (6.5) lost to B. S. Shivanandan (7.5); Abhay Patankar (6.5) lost to Arghyadip Das (7.5); Rishipal Singh (7.5) bt Parimarjan Negi (6.5); M. Intykhap Alam (6.5) lost to G. B. Joshi (7.5); K. V. Shantaram (6.5) lost to Arjun Deepak Tiwari (7.5); Prasenjit Dutta (7) drew with Aswin Jayaram (7); Joydeep Dutta (7.5) bt Devendar Singh Suri (6.5); Bibhuti Bhusan Das (6) lost to Nisha Mohota (7); Ajay Pande (6) lost to Diwakar Prasad Singh (7); Byomakesh Nayak (6) lost to B. T. Muralikrishna (7); Laltu Chatterjee (7) bt Swaraj Palit (6); Kiran Panditrao (7) bt Sriram Sarja (6); J. Malleswara Rao (7) bt Swapan Kumar Mitra (6); P. Rajesh (6.5) drew with Kanwarjeet Singh (6.5).

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