December 14, 2014

Aradhya and Varshini win National under-17

One of India's top GMs Tejas Bakre kickstarted his chess career by becoming the National champion in 1997. 17 years later his tutee Aradhya Garg became the under-17 national champion. The girls section was won by V Varshini. The girl from Tamil Nadu is creating quite a stir in Indian chess after having played National Premier earlier this year. Priyadarshan Banjan reports for ChessAce.

The city of Patna was host to the 25th edition of the National Under-17 Chess Championship from 2nd to 10th December, 2014. The tournament was organised by the All Bihar Chess Association (ABCA) on behalf of the All India Chess Federation at the Adhiweshan Bhavan at Patna. A report on the tournament with important games.

Chief guests

The time control of the event was 90 minutes plus 30 seconds from move one. This event takes a special significance as the top three finishers in this event qualify to the World Youth Championship, 2015. The tournament was an eleven round swiss with fifty players participating in the boys section and 51 in the girls section from across India.

Tournament in progress
In the Open section, Delhi lad Aaradhya Garg took first place on tiebreak ahead of Prananvananda V. of Andhra Pradesh, with both staying undefeated and scoring 9.5/11. Third place went to Tamil Nadu boy Yogit S., who scored 7.5/11, playing well below his rating.

Aaradhya Garg (Delhi)

Pranavananda V. (Andhra Pradesh)

Yogit S. (Tamil Nadu)
The Open section did not see much fight at the top as the fifth seeded Garg took the lead in the fifth round and held on until the end to clinch first place. At the same time, ninth seeded Prananvananda began to gain steam and stood clearly at second place as he kept his chase on. He finished with four straight wins to catch up with Aradhya Garg, but had to settle for the second position on tiebreak.

Yogit S. had a poor start in accordance with his standards, dropping too many draws to players rated lower to him. He however finished with three victories in the end to finish third. 
Aaradhya Garg - according to his coach GM Tejas Bakre - is a precious young talent with an aggressive playing style who played very well to clinch the title.
An elated GM Bakre speaks about the coincidence!

He does not have a sponsor due to which it is impossible for him to play tournaments on foreign soil, which GM Bakre believes is an important stepping-stone to further his career.
According to him, his last round encounter against the top seeded Krishna Teja N. of Andhra Pradesh was the most crucial game that he managed to win.
Let us have a look at this game.

A round in progress

The girls section of the tournament was a clean sweep by the Tamil Nadu girls. 16-year-old V. Varshini won the title by scoring 8.5/11, a clear half point ahead of Mahalakshmi M. and Srija Seshadri who were second and third respectively with 8.0/11.

Varshini V (Tamil Nadu)

Mahalakshmi M. (Tamil Nadu)

Srija Seshadri (Tamil Nadu)
The tournament became interesting when the top seed Mahalakshmi M. took the sole lead after seventh round where she defeated GK Monnisha, the second seed. Monnisha playing white sacrificed a pawn with the hope of sidelining Black’s queen. However, the compensation proved insufficient.

Monnisha Gk (Tamil Nadu)
According to their coach GM RB Ramesh - coach of the bronze medal winning team India at the Tromso Olympiad – Mahalakshmi is a positional player where as Monnisha has a more active approach to the game. This was meant to be a heavy clash.

Meanwhile, Tejaswini Sagar of Maharashtra and Varshini followed Mahalakshmi closely, both at 5.5/7.

Tejaswini Sagar (Maharashtra)

Mahalakshmi cruised along until the ninth round where she increased her lead to a full point. With 8.0/10 at the end of the penultimate round, she still had a lead of half point over GK Monnisha and Varshini V. However, things went haywire for her in the final round.
At the top board, Mahalaksmi lost a better position to Srija Seshadri by blundering (34...Rf8?? See game below) in time trouble while Monnisha lost to Tarini Goyal at the second board. Seeded fifth at the beginning of the tournament, Varshini V. took full advantage of the opportunity to leapfrog them by winning her game. She ended up piping them by half a point to take clear first! We should also note that Srija Seshadri’s victory enabled her to jump over Monnisha to take the third spot and earn a qualification spot for the World Youth Championship. GM RB Ramesh added that even Srija has an active style of play and played riskily in her game with Mahalakshmi.
Although she had a bad position, she managed to activate her Queen sufficiently enough to reach the seventh rank and Mahalakshmi failed to notice the danger that stared at the f7 square -the cursed square as every beginner knows!

Varshini V. hung around the top tables throughout the event and was ready to grab her chance in the final round. Here is her final round victory.

Not everyone looks happy here
Photos courtesy: All Bihar Chess Association
Download all games in PGN here:

Priyadarshan Banjan is 21-year-old club level player and writes for ChessBase. He has completed Intermediate Chartered Accountancy but dropped out to pursue other interests.

He considers it his good fortune to have learnt chess and intends to dedicate his entire life to learning this beautiful game.


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