Jalgaon Battlers,Nagpur Royals,Ahmednagar Checkers complete semi-final line-up.
Marvellous miniatures,positional solidity,tactical strokes and even big blunders kept spectators on tenterhooks at the PYC Hindu Gymakhana where the fourth and fifth round of the inaugural Maharashtra Chess league 2013 was played.
Pune Attackers were easily the pick of the teams on Day Three where two rounds were scheduled. Pune defeated Mumbai Movers and Nagpur Royals with 3.5-2.5 score respectively, finishing at the top of the points table with 17.5 points. Incidentally,Pune Attackers won all the five league matches.
Jalgaon Battlers after missing out in the fourth round,got their act together in the fifth round and finished second with 17 points after winning against Ahmednagar Checkers. Nagpur Royals with a tally of 16.6 points ended up third and Ahmednagar Checkers with 14 points finished fourth. All the four team now advance to the semi-finals to be played on Saturday. Here on,the event will be played in the knock-out format.
Pune Attackers will take on Ahmednagar Checkers in the first semi-final tomorrow while Jalgaon Battlers will be pitted against Nagpur Royals.
The fifth round was also marked by tense moves,where pressure distinctly took its toll. For the Pune attackers Swati Ghate pulled off an upset,scoring over Swapnil Dhopade while Punes star player Akshayraj Kore was shocked by his city- mate Soumya Swaminathan.
However, Pune Attackers,Nagpur Royals along with Jalgaon Battlers were virtually assured of qualification before going into the fifth round and the battle was more or less between Ahmednagar Checkers and Thane Combatants for the fourth qualifying slot. However, Mumbai Movers mowed down the hopes of Thane Combatants by winning 3.5-2.5,virtually shutting the door on them. Ahmednagar also lost by an identical margin to Jalgaon Battlers but was rather lucky as their extra half point before the round pulled them through.
Thane Combatants led by Surya Shekhar Ganguly could not make up for lost ground on the first two days and with 13.5 points finished fifth,narrowly missing out on the semi-finals by half a point. Mumbai Movers with 11.5 points finished sixth.
In the fourth round,the star studded team of Thane Combatants which was struggling for the last two days found their rhythm in a most determined manner,routing Ahmednagar Checkers 4-2. Jalgaon Battlers,the most impressive team on display in the first three rounds ,was shocked by an identical margin by Nagpur Royals while Pune Attackers edged past Mumbai Movers by a 3.5-2.5 score.
Incidentally,the titled and higher ranked players assumed charge in the fourth round,justifying their title and rating. Tejas Bakre playing for Nagpur Royals was one of the early finishers,showing tactical finesse to end his game with a flourish against reigning Asian junior Champion N Srinath in 20 moves. This victory set the tune as Sahaj Grover,Swapnil Dhopade and Chinmay Kulkarni also ended on the winning side even as Shweta Gole and Soumya Swaminathan ended on the losing side.
Thane Combatants had Surya Shekhar Ganguly leading from the front,with Mary Ann Gomes,Aditya Udeshi and the baby of the team Abhimanu Puranik scoring over higher rated IM Shardul Gagare.