Having done all the hard work in the days leading to the final round, Parimarjan Negi had it easy on the home-stretch. In less than 20 minutes into the 13th round, Negi claimed the title he had come for after a friendly 15-move draw with Tejas Bakre in the 48th National Premier chess championship here on Wednesday.

For the 17-year-old Negi from Bharat Petroleum and a student of Amity School, the title not only brought with it a glittering trophy and a cheque of Rs. 1.25 lakh but also an unexpected bonus of Rs. 50,000 from the Delhi Chess Association’s President Bharat Singh Chauhan for being the first National champion from the Capital.

In addition, Negi also became the first Indian qualifier for the next year’s World Cup to be held at Khanty Mansisyk, Russia.

“It obviously feels nice to win but many strong players don’t play in the National championship any more,” said the champion, seeded two, while putting the triumph in perspective.

“I was one of the favourites to win and therefore, I am not overly excited about accomplishing what I was expected to. Had I won in 2008 (he had lost the final round when in sight of the title), it would have been special because someone like Surya Shekhar Ganguly was around and my game was not so mature.

“Still, being the National champion is a good feeling. Nothing more,” said the country’s youngest Grandmaster, admired for his conduct, on and off the board.

For the record, an undefeated Negi tallied 9.5 points, one better than runner-up and top seed G.N. Gopal, outgoing champion B. Adhiban and former winner Abhijit Kunte.

In fact, Bakre and Negi were part of the National team title winning team from Air-India in February. On Wednesday, an unbeaten Bakre was the first to congratulate Negi, on his fine ‘double’.

Besides Negi, another local boy, 13-year-old debutant Vaibhav Suri, came up with an inspired performance. He finished with an impressive tally of eight points after posting a stunning 21-move victory over M.R. Venkatesh for the 10th spot, ahead of several Grandmasters. Gopal and Adhiban battled hard on the second board, each one thinking he had a better position, before settling for a draw.

Kunte defeated Vidit, one of his students, to finish among the elite top-six, unlike Pravin Thipsay, who drew with his trainee, M.R. Lalith Babu.

The results (13th round): Tejas Bakre (8) drew with Parimarjan Negi (9.5); G.N. Gopal (8.5) drew with B. Adhiban (8.5); Abhijit Kunte (8.5) bt Vidit Gujarathi (8); Pravin Thipsay (8) drew with M.R. Lalith Babu (8); Vaibhav Suri (8) bt M.R. Venkatesh (7.5); Shyam Sundar (7) lost to S. Arun Prasad (8); S. Kidambi (6.5) lost to Deep Sengupta (7.5); S.P. Sethuraman (7.5) bt Vikramaditya Kamble (6.5); Deepan Chakkravarthy (7) drew with Navin Kanna (7); G.A. Stany (7.5) bt Saptarshi Roy (6); Neelotpal Das (7) bt P. Karthikeyan (6); R.R. Laxman (6.5) drew with Prathamesh Mokal (6.5); P. Konguvel (7) bt Shyam Nikhil (6); Soumya Swaminathan (6.5) bt D.P. Singh (6); Arjun Tiwari (6) drew with M.S. Thejkumar (6); Debashis Das (6) bt Vinay Kumar Matta (5); N. Sudhakar Babu (5.5) bt Suvrajit Saha (5.5); Padmini Rout (5) lost to J. Ramakrishna (6); Rahul Sangma (5) drew with Shashikant Kutwal (4.5); G.B. Joshi (4.5) drew with Dinesh Sharma (5); V.A.V. Rajesh (5) drew with Vishnu Prasanna (4.5); Akash Thakur (5.5) bt O. T. Anilkumar (2.5).

Top-10 placings: 1. Negi; 2-4. Gopal, Adhiban, Kunte; 5-10. Vidit, Lalith, Thipsay, Arun, Bakre and Suri.

Keywords: National Premier chess