DR Sanmogam Gounder shocked defending champion and candidate master Manoj Kumar yesterday to emerge as a strong title contender for the JR White-sponsored National Chess Championship.

Australia-based Dr Gounder finished day two of the competition on a pleasant note, tied on second spot after notching his second win in round three by beating Gaurav Raicar at the Pacifika Campus in Suva.

He finished on 2.5 points after settling for a draw on Friday against Dr Neel Arora, who moved up to 2.5 points as well after two wins yesterday.

“Yes, I’m pleased because winning is always nice,” Dr Gounder said.

“The first two games (against Dr Arora and Manoj) were very hard. In-fact, nowadays it’s never easy to win because the standard of chess in Fiji is quite high. It’s always a struggle to win and you really have to fight it out.”

Dr Gounder last won the National Chess Championship in 1993. Last year he missed out on the title after finishing second on a tie-break.

“We can say the second round was the round of death,” National Chess Championship chief arbiter Krishneel Nair said.

“The internationally-based local players like Dr Gounder and Taione Sikivou managed to get full points while our top player Manoj Kumar suffered a setback.

But Kumar maybe down but he’s not out of the running to claim a record fourth consecutive national title. The schoolteacher made up for the loss in a grand way by handing fellow candidate master Calvin Prasad, his first loss of the championship.

Taione Sikivou will start the day as the surprise leader and the only player with a 100 per cent record while both Kumar and Prasad are now tied at fourth spot with two points.

Raicar, Goru and Simon will be hoping to register their first wins today.

Raicar and Goru meet in round four while Simon is up against Dr Arora, however, pressure will be on Kumar and Prasad to keep their chances alive by handing Sikivou and Dr Gounder their first losses.

Also, top playerr Gloria Sukhu retained her title after the women’s championship ended yesterday.

Results

Round one

Manoj Kumar beat Simon Yuen-Kongman, Dr Neel Arora draws Dr Sanmogam Gounder, Calvin Prasad beat Goru Arvind, Taione Sikivou beat Gaurav Raicar

Round two

Dr Sanmogam Gounder beat Manoj Kumar, Dr Neel Arora beat Gaurav Raicar, Calvin Prasad beat Simon Yuen-Kongman, Taione Sikivou beat Goru Arvind

Round three

Dr Sanmogam Gounder beat Gaurav Raicar, Taione Sikivou beat Simon Yuen-Kongman, Manoj Kumar beat Calvin Prasad, Dr Neel Arora beat Goru Arvind

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