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The National Senior Championship climaxes in an epic slugfest

by Satanick Mukhuty - 18/12/2019

The ongoing National Senior Championship has been witness to some really enterprising chess in the past few days with the top place changing hands thrice in the last three rounds of the event. Aravindh Chithambaram is the one in sole lead at the moment, beating Sandipan Chanda in the penultimate round he has pulled ahead of the rest by half a point. But Akash G, who created a rampage earlier by defeating one Grandmaster after another, isn't far behind either. Aravindh has a score of 8.5/10, while Akash is breathing down his neck with 8.0/10. And behind them is a pack of seven players chasing with 7.5/10 each. Read this illustrated report to get a glimpse of all the action from the last two rounds of this exciting event.

Breathtaking and bloodthirsty - that is exactly how one would describe this year's National Senior Championship that is taking place in full swing here in Majitar, Sikkim. The last few rounds of the event have been nothing short of a whirlwind where the first place has been wrested from the hand of one player to another and back several times. It really seems to be a sheer fight to the death at the top! After the penultimate round Aravindh Chithambaram has emerged as the sole leader with 8.5/10 points but Akash G, who has proven to be an absolute giant-killer in this tournament, is just breathing down his neck half a point behind with 8.0/10. Then there are seven players, including the in-form Vaibhav Suri and the experienced Sandipan Chanda, who are chasing Akash with 7.5/10 points each.

The leaderboard has changed quite dramatically in the last three rounds itself. Vaibhav defeated Akash to emerge as the sole leader after round eight, while in the very next round Sandipan defeated Vaibhav to get back on the top, and lastly, in the penultimate round Aravindh beat Sandipan to usurp the lead spot! All in all, the National Senior Championship has seen some very entertaining and fighting chess in the past few days.

Standings after round 10

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
12GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.IND2605Tamil Nadu8,50,061,567,0
221IMAkash GIND2431Tamil Nadu8,00,063,068,5
33GMVaibhav SuriIND2597Delhi7,50,061,565,5
47GMChanda SandipanIND2545West Bengal7,50,061,065,5
59GMVisakh N RIND2516Tamil Nadu7,50,057,562,5
616IMRavi Teja S.IND2455RSPB7,50,057,062,0
717IMShyaamnikhil PIND2455RSPB7,50,056,060,0
829GMHimanshu SharmaIND2392Haryana7,50,056,059,5
931IMKonguvel PonnuswamyIND2367PSPB7,50,054,059,0
105GMLalith Babu M RIND2556PSPB7,00,062,067,0

After a tooth and nail fight for the top spot, it is finally Aravindh Chithambaram who has emerged as the sole leader going into the final round of the event. In the tenth round he defeated Sandipan Chanda playing the white side of a closed Sicilian. Let us begin by first looking at the highlights of this encounter.

Aravindh, who started off as the second seed, is now the clear favourite to win the event | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Aravindh Chithambaram - Sandipan Chanda, Round 10

Aravindh decided to eschew the Open Sicilian against the extremely experienced Sandipan. Thus, with 2.Nc3 and 3.d4 much of the heavy theory was avoided.

The same system was notably employed by Carlsen against Wojtaszek in Shamkir 2018. The line may not be very theoretical but it is indeed quite sharp as is evident from the double-edged position above.

Sandipan made the critical error with the move 18...Bd7?! and in no time the evaluation tilted in White's favour. Can you see how White seized the initiative here?

The problem with 18...Bd7?! is clearly the fact that it places the bishop straight in the line of White's queen and rook. Black is bound to run into trouble once the d-file opens up. However 19.fxe5 immediately doesn't achieve anything because of 19...Bxa4 20.Nf5 dxe5 etc. The correct way is to go 19.Nf5! threatening to take on e7. This was indeed found by Aravindh and after 19...Bxf5 20.exf5 Rfc8 21.f6 he was clearly the one pushing.

Position after 21.f6: White has already launched a powerful onslaught against Black's king.

The strength of White's attack is revealed in this position. From here the game followed 25...Nxb2 26.Bxh7 Nxd1 and Aravindh just didn't care about the material and went ahead with 27.Qh5! The rest was a picturesque king hunt and you can check it out below.

Sandipan Chanda suffered his second defeat of the event in the hands of Aravindh Chithambaram but earlier he had registered an emphatic victory against Vaibhav Suri. We will now look at this game in detail | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Sandipan Chanda - Vaibhav Suri, Round 9

Vaibhav played the Rubinstein variation of the Nimzo-Indian defense against Sandipan's queen's pawn opening. The move 13...Nf8 by him above felt slightly unusual because Black generally plans to go Ne4 followed by Ndf6 in such structures.

Black's delay to play Ne4 allowed White to carry out this nice Rc2-Bc1-Ba3 maneuver and force the exchange of light-squared bishops.

And after 17.Ba3 g4 18.Bxd6 cxd6 Black was simply left with a bad bishop on b7.

Next, White dominated the c-file with his rooks. Sandipan's position was already looking very good at this point but his opponent erred further here with 24...Rac8 and made his task easier as this simply ran into 25.Rxc8 Rxc8 26.Rxc8 Bxc8 after which Black's queenside was left completely vulnerable. Play through the full game below to know how the Bengal Grandmaster converted his edge.

Photo Gallery

IM Shyaam Nikhil P (right) held Vaibhav Suri to a draw in round ten. In the previous round he pulled off an upset by beating the top seed Abhijeet Gupta in a staggering 92-move long battle | Photo: IA Dharmendra Kumar

Abhijeet Gupta, who is the highest rated player in the event, hasn't had a great run. He was held to a draw by Bharat Kumar Reddy Poluri in the tenth round | Photo: IA Dharmendra Kumar

Diptayan Ghosh was held to a draw by Aaryan Varshney. In the game against Aravindh last day he actually got a better position out of the opening but ended up blundering at the last moment to lose the game | Photo: IA Dharmendra Kumar

Deepan Chakkravarthy won against Pranav V of Tamil Nadu to take his score to 6.5/10 | Photo: IA Dharmendra Kumar 

Vishnu Prasanna (left) lost to Himanshu Sharma | Photo: IA Dharmendra Kumar

IM Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh suffered defeat in the hands of GM Visakh N R | Photo: IA Dharmendra Kumar

Veteran Abhijit Kunte has a commendable 7.0/10 points in his kitty. He defeated IM Nitin S in the ninth round and drew GM Sriram Jha in the tenth | Photo: IA Dharmendra Kumar

Akash G makes his third and final GM norm!

Akash G, who is presently placed second just half a point behind Aravindh, has already earned his third and final GM norm from the event. The Tamil Nadu lad now only needs to cross the required 2500 Elo barrier to become the latest Grandmaster of the country! Can Akash do it? Well, judging by the way he is currently playing, 2500 doesn't seem to be a difficult target at all. His performance so far is well above 2600 and he is already gaining about 30 rating points. And the way he has defeated strong and seasoned GMs like Sandipan Chanda, Aravindh Chithambaram, and Deep Sengupta clearly reflects his enormous potential and talent | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Results of round 9

Bo.No.NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtgNo.
17GMChanda Sandipan 2545 1 - 07 GMVaibhav Suri 25973
26GMGhosh Diptayan 25556 0 - 1 GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 26052
321IMAkash G 2431 ½ - ½6 GMVishnu Prasanna. V 249310
417IMShyaamnikhil P 24556 1 - 06 GMGupta Abhijeet 26111
55GMLalith Babu M R25566 0 - 16 IMRavi Teja S. 245516
611GMAnurag Mhamal 24906 1 - 06 GMNeelotpal Das 243022
731IMKonguvel Ponnuswamy 23676 1 - 06 IMVignesh N R 247512
829GMHimanshu Sharma 2392 1 - 0 GMSengupta Deep 25644
98GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J. 2535 0 - 1 GMSriram Jha 238430
1025IMGusain Himal 2412 0 - 1 GMVisakh N R25169

Results of round 10

Bo.No.NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtgNo.
12GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2605 1 - 0 GMChanda Sandipan 25457
23GMVaibhav Suri 25977 ½ - ½7 IMShyaamnikhil P 245517
321IMAkash G 24317 1 - 07 GMAnurag Mhamal 249011
416IMRavi Teja S. 24557 ½ - ½7 IMKonguvel Ponnuswamy 236731
524IMMohammad Nubairshah Shaikh 2421 0 - 1 GMVisakh N R25169
610GMVishnu Prasanna. V 2493 0 - 1 GMHimanshu Sharma 239229
730GMSriram Jha 2384 ½ - ½ GMKunte Abhijit 246713
841IMSaravana Krishnan P. 2304 ½ - ½ GMLaxman R.R. 244419
922GMNeelotpal Das 24306 1 - 0 FMHarshad S 229144
1034Bharat Kumar Reddy Poluri 23376 ½ - ½6 GMGupta Abhijeet 26111

Final round pairings

Bo.No.NameRtgPts. ResultPts. NameRtgNo.
117IMShyaamnikhil P 2455 GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. 26052
229GMHimanshu Sharma 2392 8 IMAkash G 243121
39GMVisakh N R2516 GMVaibhav Suri 25973
47GMChanda Sandipan 2545 IMRavi Teja S. 245516
531IMKonguvel Ponnuswamy 2367 7 IMDas Arghyadip 245914
65GMLalith Babu M R25567 7 GMSriram Jha 238430
711GMAnurag Mhamal 24907 7 IMSaravana Krishnan P. 230441
813GMKunte Abhijit 24677 7 FMNavalgund Niranjan 223152
919GMLaxman R.R. 24447 7 GMNeelotpal Das 243022
101GMGupta Abhijeet 2611 Harshavardhan G B 234433

Complete results and standings 

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