Rao's blunder helps Venkatesh

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/c/chessgeneric1.jpg' class='caption'> Venkatesh joined overnight leaders Sriram Jha of LIC and B S Sivanandan of Karnataka with a fine positional victory over M Srinivasa Rao.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Vijayawada :

International Master M R Venkatesh of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board joined overnight leaders Sriram Jha of LIC and B S Sivanandan of Karnataka at the top of the tables with a fine positional victory over M Srinivasa Rao. The three leaders took their tally to an enviable score of 7.5 points out of a possible nine after Jha and Sivanandan agreed for a draw in a complex position. In joint fourth spot are Sunder Rajan Kidambi of PSPB, D Harika of Andhra Pradesh, Abhijit Gupta of Rajasthan, R R Laxman of Tamil Nadu and Nassir Wajih of Delhi who all have seven points each. With just four rounds remaining, there are as many as 24 players in the standing list with 6.5 points apiece. Defending champion R B Ramesh was held to a draw by Rishipal Singh of AP in an upset result of the day. Coming up trumps with his natural piece play was Venkatesh who made merry thanks to a rather dubious plan adopted by M Srinivasa Rao. The latter fell prey to a subtle opening idea with his black pieces. It was a closed Sicilian wherein Venkatesh won a pawn and went for a merciless slaughter in the middle game. Jha initially turned down a draw offer by Sivanandan who played black. However in the Grunfeld defence the LIC man missed out on a simple maneuver that helped Sivanandan maintain the balance. The peace treaty was soon signed. The day belonged to Valay Parikh who capitalized on a blunder by Woman Grandmaster S Vijayalakshmi to move within striking distance for a berth in the 'A' championship. Valay equalized easily in a Caro Kann defence game as black and later digested a sacrificed pawn. However, Vijayalakshmi was still much in the rook and pawns end game when she overlooked a simple check that cost her the second pawn. The game lasted 41 moves. Former champion Nassir Wajih turned the tables on IM Dinesh Kumar of LIC in a clearly inferior position arising out of a Benoni defense game. Having turned down a peace proposal, Sharma took too much time in the middle game and even though he had an extra piece to boast off, a blunder in the closing stages cost him dearly. (PTI)

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