| Surya leads Humpy by half-a-point
Kozhikode: Surya Sekhar Ganguly emerged sole leader after a finely-crafted victory over S. Vikramjit Singh of Manipur in the ninth round of the 41st National A chess meet on Tuesday.
Bengalís Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury caused the biggest upset by snapping the dream run of overnight leader GM Koneru Humpy.
Roy Chowdhury also made sure of his second IM norm in the process and now only needs to stretch his norm till game 11 when he will be crowned an International Master.
As things stand now, with 14 more rounds to go in the 24-player championship, Surya with seven points has a slender half-point lead over Humpy. GM elect R.B. Ramesh and Roy Chowdhury have six apiece.
Not far behind are British Open champion GM Abhijit Kunte and Bengalís Neelotpal Das on 5.5 points. A pack of six players including veteran GM Pravin Thipsay and Bengal GM Sandipan Chanda is on five points.
Humpy, who usually plays for the full point, spurned down a draw offer but her position deteriorated soon after as she tried too hard for victory. Saptarshi wrapped the game with an elegant combination.
Ganguly outplayed Vikramjit in a Petroff Defence game. The Manipuri came under pressure in the centere even after trading a couple of major pieces and decided to part with a pawn after which the extra material was swiftly converted to victory by Ganguly.
In another major upset, veteran GM Dibyendu Barua of Bengal went down to Vishal Sareen in a French Defence game where the former played black. Barua had a very complicated position on hand in the middle-game but missed out on his chances before losing the ensuing endgame that might have been a draw with correct play.
Thipsay capitalised on a tactical oversight by Arghyadip Das of Bengal and won an early pawn in the Sicilian Classical Defence game.
Neelotpalís better opening preparation came in handy against veteran Hariharan who sacrificed a piece without adequate compensation and lost the endgame, while double GM norm holder Tejas Bakre cruised to a smooth victory against Bengalís Suvrajit Saha.