National Premier 2017 Round 13: "I am the happiest man!"
Those were Lalith Babu's words when asked as to how he felt after winning his first national seniors title. The Andhra boy has had a rough period in his life since 2013. Four years had passed and he hadn't won a single tournament. Winning this National Premier meant a lot for Lalith. Earlier in the day he had agreed to the shortest draw in the tournament - 14 moves. Aravindh, who was jointly leading with him, however slumped to a disastrous loss. As a result Lalith was crowned the Champion with 9.0/13. We have pictures, videos, stories and all the happenings from the final day of 55th National Premier Championship in Patna, Bihar.
Lalith Babu is the 55th National Premier champion 2017
25 years ago Patna hosted the National Premier in 1992. Pravin Thipsay was the Champion. Now 25 years later the National Championship was held in the city once again! And it went without saying that Pravin Thipsay had to be present in the closing ceremony of this historic occasion. Along with Thipsay, Dibyendu Barua was also invited, which made it a show to remember.
The organizers took it as an opportunity to host a show named "Blast from the Past" where the two legends - Thipsay and Barua shared their chess experience on and off the board with the audience. We have also video recorded the entire show which will be released soon.
Earlier in the day, Pravin Thipsay and Dibyendu Barua inaugurated the all important final round of the tournament. Lalith Babu and Aravindh Chithambaram were leading the tournament with 8.5/12. Things could go either way, but Lalith surely had the edge. Firstly he was white against Swapnil Dhopade as compared to Aravindh having black against Debashis Das. Also Lalith had a better tiebreak score thanks to his victory over Aravindh earlier in the tournament.
The tension in the room was quite palpable. Swapnil came to the board with a line in the Catalan that he had never played before. Lalith panicked as he had very little idea of what had to be done. He started taking loads of time on his clock. Very soon he was 45 minutes down on time. But things were fine for Lalith because on the adjoining board, his rival Aravindh Chithambaram had put himself in a horrible situation by playing a highly inferior line in the King's Indian. One look at the b7 bishop was easy to convince everyone that Aravindh was going to need a miracle to win this one. Seeing that he was low on time and outprepared, Lalith took a draw in fourteen moves.
When it comes to milking positional advantages, you can count on Debashis to get the job done. He made one powerful move after another and before you knew it, the game was already over.
"I think my opponent's opening choice was very bad. After the game Aravindh told me that he has had very bad results in the last round. Even in the last national premier he lost the last round to R.R. Laxman," said Debashis. Aravindh also was unhappy with his final round game, but with great maturity, speaking with ChessBase India he said, "I am happy with what I got. The last round game was not great, but I am in general happy with the quality of my play in other games." Many experts including India number three Vidit Gujrathi point out that Aravindh's talent is off the charts. Reaching 2650 is something that we can expect from him in the near future. The only thing that needs polishing is his psychological toughness. If he can achieve that, then sky is the limit for this young lad.
Aravindh's defeat meant that Lalith Babu was now the only player on nine points out of thirteen and he had become the 55th National Premier Champion 2017. If there was someone who deserved this title it was surely Lalith Babu. As Debashis rightly pointed out, "Aravindh is just 18 years old. He will win the National Premier for sure in the years to come. However, for Lalith this was an extremely crucial breakthrough." Lalith was ecstatic after the victory. He spoke with his mother (which we captured on a video) and his coach G. Muralikrishna, the two main pillars of his victory.
After the event ended we spoke with Lalith about his maiden national premier victory. "I am the happiest man", said Lalith. "I trained very hard for two months with my coach G. Muralikrishna in Ponnur. He along with recently minted IM Dhulipala Bala Chandra Prasad helped me to prepare for this event. I would like to thank my coach, my mother and my sister for always supporting me."
Exclusive ChessBase India interview with 55th National Premier Champion:
Replay all the games of round 13
Results of round 13
|Round 13 on 2017/11/10 at 10:00 AM|
|1||7||2525||GM||Lalith Babu M R||½ - ½||GM||Swapnil S. Dhopade||2516||14|
|2||8||2415||IM||Nitin S.||0 - 1||GM||Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan||2568||6|
|3||9||2422||IM||Shyaamnikhil P||½ - ½||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||2477||5|
|4||10||2510||GM||Himanshu Sharma||1 - 0||Sammed Jaykumar Shete||2310||4|
|5||11||2494||GM||Debashis Das||1 - 0||GM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.||2573||3|
|6||12||2434||IM||Das Arghyadip||0 - 1||GM||Kunte Abhijit||2503||2|
|7||13||2578||GM||Karthikeyan Murali||½ - ½||GM||Laxman R.R.||2392||1|
Final Ranking crosstable after 13 Rounds
|1||GM||Lalith Babu M R||2525||IND||*||1||0||1||1||1||½||½||1||½||½||½||1||½||9,0||0,0||57,75||6,0|
|2||GM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.||2573||IND||0||*||½||0||1||½||½||½||1||½||1||1||1||1||8,5||0,0||49,00||6,0|
|5||GM||Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan||2568||IND||0||0||½||½||*||1||1||½||½||½||½||½||1||1||7,5||1,0||43,50||4,0|
|10||GM||Deepan Chakkravarthy J.||2477||IND||½||½||0||½||½||0||0||½||0||*||1||½||1||1||6,0||1,0||35,00||3,0|
|11||GM||Swapnil S. Dhopade||2516||IND||½||0||½||½||½||0||½||½||½||0||*||1||1||½||6,0||0,0||36,25||2,0|
|13||Sammed Jaykumar Shete||2310||IND||0||0||½||½||0||½||½||1||0||0||0||1||*||0||4,0||0,0||26,00||2,0|
Bharat Singh, the AICF Secretary, was due to arrive at the closing ceremony. However, due to fog issues his flight was circling between Kolkata and Patna. He travelled for nearly eight hours. As Dibyendu Barua jokingly said, "Now all of us should entertain each other by giving speeches!" Abhijit Kunte was invited to speak about his experience of playing the 20th National Premier.
The chess lover in Bharat Singh was quite visible when he was asked to speak, " I had a long flight. However I didn't miss the game between Aravindh and Debashis. White broke in the centre with d5 and it was a nice win by Debashis." A very short yet apt speech by the Secretary which showed that he is completely involved in the sport that he is promoting.
Hindi coverage by Niklesh Jain: