Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury of West Bengal turned tables on top seeded Grandmaster Pendyala Harikrishna of Wipro to steal the honours in the second round in the 41st National 'A' Chess Championship in Calicut on Thursday.
With most of the 12 games ending in draws, nine players emerged leaders on one point each on the opening day of the competition. They are: Chowdhury, Grandmasters Dibyendu Barua of Tata Steel, Sandipan Chanda of ONGC, Surya Shekhar Ganguly and R B Ramesh of IOC, Pravin Thipsay of Union Bank, Koneru Humpy of Bank of Baroda, International Masters Tejas Bakre of Indian Airlines and Vishal Sareen of LIC.
Playing black, Chowdhury struggled for the major part of the game but in the end his perseverance payed off handsomely as Harikrishna got his king entangled in a mating web.
The opening was a Queen's Gambit declined and Harikrishna had castled on the queen's wing to initiate a king side attack.
In another game, Surya Shekhar Ganguly played it safe and forced a quick draw with National women's champion Koneru Humpy.
Following suit was British Open champion Abhijit Kunte, who also settled for a quick draw with Barua while Suvrajit Saha drew with Sareen in a level position immediately after the opening.
The oldest player in the meet, V Hariharan of Indian Bank, achieved a creditable draw against the country's latest Granndmaster R B Ramesh after the latter failed to capitalise on a superior position.
Playing an irregular opening set-up Hariharan was pushed to the wall in the middle game and it took a big effort on his part to salvage half a point.
Sandipan Chanda, who got a full point, thanks to a blunder by IM Prathamesh Mokal of Maharashtra in the morning game, decided against stretching West Bangal statemate Roktim Bondhopadhyay and drew his board after repetition of moves from the black piece.
The lone upset of the first round was recorded by S Vikramjit Singh of Manipur, who defeated International Master Sriram Jha of LIC from the white side of a Queen's gambit declined game.
Top seed Harikrishna took a quick draw with Kunte while Barua was lucky to get a full point against Bandhopadhyay from his pet Italian game with white pieces.
An equal endgame arose with Barua having some chances and he caught Bandhopadhyay off guard with a surprising exchange sacrifice.
Round 2: P Harikrishna (0.5) lost to Saptarshi Roy Chowdhary (1.5); Neelotpal Das (1) drew S Satyapragyan (1); Tejas Bakre (1.5) drew T S Ravi (1); Praveen Thipsay (1.5) beat M Srinivas Rao (0); Arghyadip Das (0.5) drew M R Venkatesh (1); Suvrajit Saha (0.5) drew Vishal Sareen (1.5); V Hariharan (0.5) drew R B Ramesh (1.5); Koneru Humpy (1.5) drew S S Ganguly (1.5); Sriram Jha (0.5) drew S Kidambi (0.5); Prathamesh Mokal (1) beat S Vikramjit Singh (1); Roktim Bandhodhpay (0.5) drew Sandipan Chanda (1.5); Abhijit Kunte (1) drew Dibyendu Barua (1.5)
Round 1: Kunte drew Hari Krishna; Barua beat Bandhodhpay; Chanda beat Mokal; Singh beat Jha; Kidambi lost to Humpy; Ganguly beat Hariharan; Ramesh beat Saha; Sareen beat A Das; Venkatesh drew Thipsay; Srinivas Rao lost to Bakre; Ravi drew Neelotpal Das; Satyapragyan drew Chowdhary.