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Since 1st March, 1999
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Ramesh clinches National B title
- Suvrajit, Roktim and Arghyadip qualify for National A meet from Bengal

Nagpur: R. B. Ramesh edged out top seeded Grandmaster Koneru Humpy by virtue of better progressive score to win the 41st National B Chess Championship on Friday.

This is Ramesh’s maiden National B title.

Both Ramesh and Humpy finished with an identical score of 10.5 points out of a possible 13. Ramesh, who missed a berth in the Indian team last year, is back in the National A fold with a creditable performance.

In the last round, Ramesh defeated Saptarshi Roy of Bengal while Humpy capitalised on a blunder to force matters against I. M. S. Satyapragyan.

The other title contender before the start of the final game, Sriram Jha, offered draw to Vishal Sareen as soon as Ramesh got to a winning position.

Jha had to be content with the third place while Sareen made his fifth National A finishing eighth.

Defending champion Suvrajit Saha, Roktim Bandhopadhyay and Arghyadip Das of Bengal qualified for National A. While this is Suvrajit’s second entry, Roktim and Arghyadip have made it for the first time.

There were just two quick draws as on the top boards. M. R. Venkatesh qualified alongwith M. Srinivasa Rao of Andhra Pradesh after settling for truce while Suvrajit followed suit with Roktim.

Prathamesh Mokal of Maharashtra was lucky to qualify for the A in spite of drawing with Arghyadip after a gruelling encounter.

Arghyadip sealed the last berth with a better progressive score.

The factor which worked in Arghaydip’s favour was that this year the qualifying seats were increased to 13 as Humpy was playing in the event even though she was directly seeded for the National A by virtue of being a GM.

Vikramjit Singh of Manipur, a former national U-14 champion, became the first player after A. B. Meetei to qualify for National A from north-east.

Veteran V. Hariharan proved the surprise pack as he beat Vikramaditya Kamble to secure the ninth spot.

On the top board, Humpy, playing white, opened with her pet queen pawn opening to which Satyapragyan replied with Nimzo Indian Defence.

The development was on even keel till the early middle game but slowly Humpy started taking control with more space and centrally placed pieces.

Satyapragyan was forced to sacrifice an exchange to look for counter offensive and after further exchange of pieces, managed to make deep inroads into the enemy camp.

He won back the exchange and emerged better on a material count on his way towards a shock upset win when suddenly lady luck smiled on Humpy as Satyapragyan blundered his knight and extra pawns. The rest was easy for Humpy.

On the other hand, the talented Saptarshi was found wanting against Ramesh, who won easily in 37 moves from the black side of Queen’s Gambit opening.

After missing the bus narrowly last year, Saptarshi missed out on a berth this time finishing 14th.

QUALIFIERS: 1. R.B. Ramesh 2. Koneru Humpy 3. Sriram Jha 4. M. R. Venkatesh 5. Suvrajit Saha 6. M. Srinivasa Rao 7. S. Vikramjit Singh 8. V. Hariharan 9. Vishal Sareen 10. S. Satyapragyan 11. Prathamesh Mokal 12. Roktim Bandopadhyay 13. Arghyadip Das. (PTI)

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