GM norms for Dhopade, Mhamal; Venkatesh remains in lead

Kolkata: National U-25 champion Swapnil Dhopade and Anurag Mhamal achieved their maiden GM norms, while M R Venkatesh remained on pole position with one point lead after round nine of the National Premier Chess Championship at Kshudiram Anushiram Kendra here on Wednesday.

Local lad Bitan Banerjee also made it memorable earning his third and final IM norm.

Sole leader Venkatesh drew against Deep Sengupta to make it seven points and was followed by Deep Sengupta, Dhopade, G N Gopal and FM Anurag Mhamal with six points each.

Dhopade of Railways confirmed his maiden GM norm with a draw against Abhijit Kunte in a Bogo-Indian defence.

Goa`s Mhamal also achieved his maiden GM norm by getting the better of GM Sahaj Grover in a sharp tactical game with English opening.

Bitan drew against GM M R Latith Babu in a hard-fought double rook ending and now needs to raise his rating to Elo 2400 to seal his IM title.

On the second board, GM G N Gopal drew against GM S Arun Prasad in 33 moves in a Cambridge Springs defence.

Vidit Gujrathi made short work of IM P Kartikeyan in a rook ending which arose from a Nimzo Indian defence in 42 moves.

Diptayan Ghosh held Dibyendu Barua to a draw in 44 moves in a Catalan Opening.