Two-time National champion Murali Karthikeyan did the star turn for Chess Gurukul before teammate R. Praggnanandhaa put the finishing touches to a 4-3 triumph against Superkids in the Superfinal of the inaugural Sukooon Resorts Indian Chess.com League on Sunday.
With only a few seconds remaining of his allotted time, Praggnanadhaa defended brilliantly to hold Nihal Sarin and take Chess Gurukul to the title. The draw meant Gurukul’s top player Aravindh Chithambaram was not required to play.
Karthikeyan, modest as ever, said, “I’m happy, I could contribute to my team’s success. We are all aware of blunders in such shorter time controls and I’m glad I could play some very strong moves.”
Gurukul skipper R.B. Ramesh hailed his players for holding their nerve. “We, at Chess Gurukul, enjoy and try to be creative and not go after results. That’s the reason our board order went by ratings, without trying to be clever about it,” he said. “Karthikeyan played very well after coming in when we were down by two points,” he added.
The final, involving elimination rounds, beginning from the Board 5 players from both teams, saw Karthikeyan turn the tide Gurukul’s way by eliminating four Superkids players, while contributing 3.5 points.
After Divya Deshmukh (2), also Ramesh’s student, put Superkids ahead by accounting for R. Vaishali and stunning Aditya Mittal, Karthikeyan beat Divya, N. Srinath and Raunak Sadhwani. Thereafter, Karthikeyan was held by in-form Arjun Ergaisi (0.5). As per rules, the draw packed off both GMs.
This left Gurukul’s No. 2 Praggnanandhaa needing only a draw against Nihal Sarin to decide the title.
Superfinal: Chess Gurukul bt Superkids 4-3 (R. Vaishali lost to Divya Deshmukh; Adtiya Mittal lost to Divya; M. Karthikeyan bt Divya; Karthikeyan bt N. Srinath; Karthikeyan bt Raunak Sadhwani; Karthikeyan drew with Arjun Ergaisi; R. Praggnanadhaa drew with Nihal Sarin).