Harika joins leaders

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/C/Chessgeneric3.jpg' class='caption'> Dronavalli Harika, who is awaiting confirmation of Women Grandmaster title, continued with her dream run.

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

Dronavalli Harika, who is awaiting confirmation of Women Grandmaster title, continued with her dream run and crashed through the defenses of seasoned Nassir Wajih of Delhi in the 10th round of 42nd National Chess championship. From the top boards, young IM norm holder Abhijit Gupta of Rajasthan, International Master S Kidambi of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board and Harika joined the overnight leaders IMs Sriram Jha of LIC and M R Venkatesh of PSPB to lead with 8 points. Gupta defeated overnight leader B S Sivanandan of Karnataka. Eight players IM N K Mishra of Jharkhand, IM Prathamesh Mokal of Maharashtra, Saptarshi Roy of Goodricke National Chess Academy and the West Bengal duo of Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury and Roktim Bandyopadhyay along with Sivanandan follow the five leaders with just a half point less to their kitty. From a pack of another 27 players on seven points, top seed Grandmaster R B Ramesh of PSPB is reckoning for top honors with three more rounds remaining in this 326 players championship. The competition is a selection event for the National 'A' championship, with 14 qualifying berths at stake. Harika gave an exemplary performance in beating Nassir Wajih who tried to confuse the Andhra sensation with some unorthodox moves in the Sicilian Pelican. However, as the nature of the opening was, Nassir was caught off guard on the queenside and failed to find a shelter for his king. Harika knocked down two pawns in succession and romped home without much ado. It was a predictable draw between Venkatesh and Jha, as both of them required just 50 per cent to qualify. However, Sivanandan, in similar shoes, surprised everyone by spurning down an early peace proposal by Gupta who played very solidly in the later part of the game with his black pieces. Arriving at a rook and pawns endgame that should have been a draw, Sivanandan was in for a shock once he did not go for the right result as Gupta out-calculated his senior rival. S Kidambi, after some initial hiccups, is knocking at the doors of National 'A' yet again. The Chennai-based IM had it easy against Laxman who lost a piece in middle game and never recovered. In other matches, Ramesh defeated Arindam Mukherjee of West Bengal while fancied GM norm holder Lanka Ravi went down to G Balaji. (PTI)

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