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G Akash becomes senior national chess champion

Kolkata: Sixteen-year-old school student G Akash on Sunday became the senior national champion by winning the 50th National Premier Chess Championship, here on Sunday.

World Champion Viswanathan Anand had also won the natioal title at the age of 16 while Dibyendu Barua had won the national championship title when he was 17.

The class XI student of Jawahar Higher Secondary School Chennai drew his final round game against GM Deep Sengupta, with black, to take the title and a prize purse of INR 1.75 lakh at the Kshudiram Anushilan Kendra.

Akash, whose previous best performance was a third-place finish in the U-17 National in Kanpur in August, also clinched a straightway IM title and first GM norm as the championship is billed as Zone 3.7 championship.

As India is considered as a separate Zone for the world championship qualification matches, Akash will get a direct entry to the World Cup to be held in Tromse, Norway next year.

Akash, who turned 16 on October 1, thus joined Anand in becoming senior national champion at a young age. Barua had won his maiden national title when he was 17.

For Akash, the target from his maiden appearance at the senior nationals boasting 15 GMs and 11 IMs was to get his first IM norm.

But, aided by a bit of luck, things started turning in his favour from 11th round as M R Venkatesh, who led the pack for four rounds, forfeited his match to the youngster for arriving three minutes late because of traffic.

Akash did not look back after the one-point awarded to him as he upset an under-pressure Venkatesh on Saturday in a tough game before settling the issue on Sunday.

Playing black, Akash and Sengupta had a Sicilian opening with unusual variation and the latter had the early advantage. But Sengupta blundered with a miscalculation as Akash showed brilliant counter attack to force a draw.

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