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National Premier 2017 Round 6: Aravindh Chithambaram is the sole leader

by Sagar Shah - 03/11/2017

We are nearing the halfway stage of the Khadi India National Premier 2017 and we finally have a sole leader - Aravindh Chithambaram. Just like round five he played a fine rook endgame, this time to down the debutant Sammed Shete. But the game which took the limelight today was definitely Karthikeyan Murali's win over Lalith Babu. The two time national champion showed tremendous mastery over the dynamics of the position as he sacrificed a piece and then finished off the game with surgeon like precision. A detailed report from Patna with video impressions, analysis and high quality pictures. 

Karthikeyan Murali plays à la Bronstein

As a chess player I have been fortunate to travel across the country, visit different cities and meet different kinds of people. However, never had I visited the city of Patna or the state of Bihar. Hence, when we (Amruta and I) were invited by the organizers to cover the event from round six onwards, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Bihar has no real chess culture. There are instances of talents sprouting once in a while, but as compared to states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, and others they still lag behind by a considerable margin. They have one International Master in the form of Rahul Sangma, who also spent a lot of his time in Delhi. Considering the situation in the state, I wasn't expecting a grand show by the organizers. But I was pleasantly surprised.

The playing hall of the 55th National Premier 2017 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

One of things that I noticed as I entered the playing hall was the pictures of the players set up on walls. "We want this to be a celebration of the players," says Arvind Kumar Sinha, the secretary of All Bihar Chess Association (ABCA). Considering that the national premier in 2016 was a complete debacle, this was a welcome change for all the participants. All the players have rated the playing hall and organization very highly at this event.

The Lemontree Hotel is where the playing venue is situated. The Hotel is just two months old and has the infrastructure to not only hold national premier but also big events like the Commonwealth or Asian Championships. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

"When in Bihar, do as the Bihari's do!" And so we took a cycle rickshaw!
Moving through the busy streets of Patna!

The rounds of the tournament are being held in morning and start at 10 a.m. We reached the tournament hall early and setup our equipment for reporting. The players started pouring in one by one. Here's a video that gives you the feel of the initial moments before and after the start of the round.

The initial moments of round six

We had two decisive games today with both the youngest participants Karthikeyan and Aravindh winning their games

Swapnil Dhopade isn't having the best of events, but he seems ready for today's game with a smile on his face!  | Photo: Amruta Mokal

When you do the thing you love, a smile sprouts naturally! (or if there is a cameraman!) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

S.L. Narayanan getting into the zone before the start of the round! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Perhaps this was the first time that I inaugurated a round by making a move! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The most exciting game of round six was Karthikeyan vs Lalith Babu | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Karthikeyan sacrificed a piece with Nxd5!

Soon all the top players forgot about their games and flocked to this board | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The way Karthikeyan sacrificed a piece was impressive, but the way he finished off the opponent with accurate calculations towards the end was even more.

Analyzing the game immediately after it was over
Karthikeyan tells us about his deep calculations during the game

Not the best day at the office for Lalith, but an experienced player like him surely knows how to make a comeback! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The sole leader of the tournament with 4.5/6 is Aravindh Chithambaram. In the sixth round he got the better of Sammed Shete. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Aravindh couldn't get much out of the opening against Sammed Shete. In fact in the middlegame we reached a situation where it was Sammed who was slightly better. But the boy from Kolhapur couldn't hold his nerve and Aravindh managed to convert the drawish looking endgame into a full point.

There was enough play in the position for Aravindh (white) to convert this rook endgame into a full point

Even though Aravindh won the game, his opponent Sammed Shete is surely winning the hearts of the fans with some excellent chess | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Aravindh speaks about the game and also his plans on the rest day. Just like Ding Liren, he too plans to wash some clothes!

Arghyadip Das drew his game against S. Nitin. Did you know: Arghyadip has 4 GM norms and his highest live rating was 2499.3! So close, yet so far to the GM title! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

S. Nitin has a 50% score at the end of 6 rounds | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Overnight leader S.L. Narayanan drew his game against Laxman and was pushed to the second spot | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Laxman ensured that he didn't lose the final round before the rest day and made a solid draw against S.L Narayanan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It was a fight until the very end. Himanshu seemed to be slightly better, but couldn't do much with his edge | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Interview with Swapnil Dhopade and Himanshu Sharma in Hindi

Deepan badly wanted to put his three losses behind him and start the tournament afresh. He was successful, as he made an easy draw with the black pieces against Abhijit Kunte. | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Abhijit Kunte speaks about his experience of playing 20 years of National Premier

Debashis Das drew his game against P. Shyam Nikhil | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ranking crosstable after Round 6

Rk.NameRtgFED1234567891011121314Pts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
1GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.2573IND*½1½½114,50,013,253,0
2GMKarthikeyan Murali2578IND½*½1½½14,00,512,252,0
3GMSunilduth Lyna Narayanan2568IND½*½1½½14,00,511,252,0
4GMLalith Babu M R2525IND0*½1½1½3,50,09,252,0
5GMLaxman R.R.2392IND0½*½1½13,50,09,002,0
6IMDas Arghyadip2434IND½0½*½½13,00,58,751,0
7IMNitin S.2415IND0½*½½1½3,00,57,501,0
8GMKunte Abhijit2503IND½½½*0½½2,50,08,250,0
9IMShyaamnikhil P2422IND½½½*½0½2,50,07,500,0
10Sammed Jaykumar Shete2310IND0½0½1*½2,50,07,251,0
11GMDebashis Das2494IND½0½½½*½2,50,07,000,0
12GMSwapnil S. Dhopade2516IND0½0½1*½2,50,06,501,0
13GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.2477IND000½½*12,01,04,501,0
14GMHimanshu Sharma2510IND0½½½½0*2,00,05,750,0

3rd of November is a rest day and the organizers have arranged an excursion to Bodh Gaya. The tournament will resume from the 4th of November and these are the games to look forward to:

Previous reports:

India's strongest tournament National Premier 2017 is here!

R1: Deepan carries his Challengers form to the Premier

R2: How to beat Ruy Lopez Exchange

R3: Capablanca's theorem helps Aravindh

R4: King is an active piece!

R5: Shete scores a stunning win

Hindi coverage by Niklesh Jain:

नेशनल प्रीमियर-R1- दीपन के प्यादों में उलझे हिमांशु

नेशनल प्रीमियर R-2- जब राजा निकला घूमने !

अरविंद - अर्घ्यदीप की पहली जीत

नेशनल प्रीमियर R-4 - अब आया खेल का मजा !

नेशनल प्रीमियर-R-5 : उलटफेर अभिजीत कुंटे हारे

नेशनल प्रीमियर-R-6 -अरविंद निकले सबसे आगे !