|Tuesday, June 24, 1997||DECCAN HERALD|
There was a five way tie for the third to seventh position between R Ravindran, Sitharamachar, Srikrishna Udupa, V S Hiremath and R Ramachandran all having totalled seven points. N Pramod, Jonathan Utarid and D V Venkataraman tied for the eighth to tenth position, aggregating 6.5 points.
The atmosphere was tense on both the top tables with each player needing a win to top the tournament. The top board encounter fizzled out into a draw with the players fighting every inch of the way. On the second table however Pai prevailed over Pramod in a hard fought game to assure himself of the first place.
The spate of upsets continued into the final round where top seeded B V Prakash battling cold and cough blundered against Srikrishna Udupa while Ramprasad lost to fourteen-year-old R Ramachandran. Ten-year-old R Sunil shocked N R Raghuraman while seven-year-old M Suraj scored a creditable 5.5 points.
P S Pai maintained his positional advantage throughout his game against N Pramod in a Caro Kann advanced variation. The middle game was fluid with numerous continuations but Pai eliminated all counter threats by forcing the exchange of queens to reach a favourable rook and Knight ending.
Pramod failed to defend accurately and went down tamely in the ending after 34 moves. ''The top board draw spurred me to reach a decisive result. Pramod is tactically sharp and I blunted his tactical strokes by forcing the exchange of Queens`` said a beaming Pai.
J Manjunath`s penchant for sharp openings was once again evident as he adopted the Alekhine defence to counter Sitharamachar`s king pawn opening. Manjunath mishandled the opening to lose a vital central pawn in exchange for the wing pawn but rallied back superbly to win a pawn in the middlegame.
The transposition into the ending where Manjunath had two pawns and a rook as against his opponents single pawn and rook found him struggling to convert the material advantage into a win but stubborn resistance by Sitharamachar, steered the game towards a draw after 45 moves.
Srikrishna Udupa adopted the Petroff Defence agains B V Prakash to gain an edge from the opening stages. A listless Prakash blundered a bishop on the 21st move to end up losing the point.
In a two knights defence game between K Devoji and R Ravindran, three pawn sacrifices one after the other hurled at Ravindran were accepted without hesistance. Devoji`s premature attack was refuted by Ravindran who had the centre well controlled and to precipitate things Devoji further lost a bishop for no compensation and resigned.
R Ramachandran adopted the dynamic Scheelman gambit against Ramprasad`s king pawn push. Attacking vigorously on the kingside Ramachandran had an extra piece for two pawns and furthur won a piece to clinch the game in his favour.
9th round results: 1.K Sitharamachar (7) drew J Manjunath (7.5); 2.P S Pai (7.5) bt N Pramod (6.5); 3.B V Prakash (6) lost to Srikrishna Udupa (7); 4.K Devoji (6) lost to R Ravindran (7); 5.V S Hiremath (7) w/o by Sydney Lewis (6); 6.Ramprasad (5.5) lost to R Ramachandran (7) ; 7.V Anand (5.5) lost to Jonathan Utarid (6.5); 8.D V Venkataraman (6.5) lost to Vasuki (5.5); 9.M Raju (5) w/o M V Shastry (6); 10.R Sunil (6) bt N R Raghuraman (5);11.Arvind Shastry(6) bt Akshay Patel (5); 12.Eshwar Bhat (6) bt S M Dikshit (5); 13.Parveez Abdullah (6) bt Anant V (5); 14.N Pradeep (6) bt G Kannan (5); 15. N Garadi (6) w/o R Upadhyaya (5).
Top Ten Placings (All ties were resolved using the progressive score system) - 1. P Shivanand Pai (7.5); 2.J Manjunath (7.5); 3.R Ravindran (7); 4.Sitharamachar (7); 5.Srikrishna Udupa (7); 6.V S Hiremath(7); 7.R Ramachandran(7); 8.N Pramod (6.5); 9.J M Utarid(6.5); 10.D V Venkataraman (6.5).