PSPB grandmaster Lalith Babu, scoring nine points, was crowned as the undisputed National Premier Chess Champion, thanks to Odisha’s grandmaster Debashis Das, who defeated the only other title seeker Aravindh Chithambaram of Tamil Nadu in the Khadi India National Premier Chess Championship, organised by All Bihar Chess Association at Lemon Tree Hotel, Patna today.
Irrespective of the loss, Aravindh scored 8.5 points to remain status quo in ranking – the runner-up spot he secured by losing the final round to RR Laxman in 2016.
Defending champion Karthikeyan could muster only the third position with 7.5 points. Debashis and SL Narayanan of Kerala were placed fourth and fifth with the same number of points.
Aravindh’s preference of Kings Indian defence was not beneficial to him, as Debashis attained a good positional advantage on 12th move itself. To add to the woes, Aravindh’s bad move of Ne5 on 18th move, for which he consumed just 18 seconds, gifted a winning position to his opponent. When Debashis’ c6- pawn attacked Aravindh’s bishop, the latter’s ploy of attacking the queen not only failed miserably, but also proved to be fatal. Debashis demolished Aravindh in just 28 moves.
In an equal position arising out of the Catalan opening, Lalith Babu surprised everybody by allowing GM Swapnil Dhopade to repeat the moves and get away with a draw claim in just 14 moves, shortest in terms of both moves and time. Later, the much relieved and elated Lalith Babu admitted that the pressure on him was too much and he boldly took the risk of splitting the point.
Honourable Shri. Ajay Kumar Tripathy, Justice, Patna High Court was the chief guest and Shri. Bharat Singh Chauhan, Hon, Secretary, All India Chess Federation, former national champions GM Dibyendu Barua and GM Pravin Thipsay were the guest of honours, together with the president of the Organising Committee Sri. RR. Laxmanan, Sri. Rakesh Prasad, General Manager of NTPC, and Ms. Sangita Kumari, Regional Director of Khadi India.
Report by IA Prof. R. Anantharam/Featured Photo by Amruta Mokal