International Master Sriram Jha checkmated top-seeded Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly to lend another twist in the tale of the 43rd National 'A' chess championship now in progress in Visakhapatnam.
The victory did not help Jha even improve his last place in the premier event, but it turned out to be disastrous for defending champion Ganguly who had earlier seen Deepan Chakravarthy take a surprising quick draw with M S Thej Kumar in 16th round.
The other big winner of the day was International Master S Kidambi who revived his hopes of making it to the Indian team with a finely crafted victory over erstwhile sole leader Grandmaster Koneru Humpy.
With just five rounds remaining and Deepan having four games left to play, it seems there may be no stopping for the former Asian junior champion as he edged up to 12 points and stretched his lead to a whopping 1.5 points over nearest rivals M R Venkatesh and Diwakar Prasad Singh -- who let a certain victory against GM Abhijit Kunte slip out of hands.
The loss against Jha proved quite costly for Ganguly as was written large on his face. The Kolkatan Grandmaster, having 10.5 points, is now at fourth spot with five games in hand.
With Abhijit Kunte and GM Sandipan Chanda on 9.5 points each and Kidambi on 9 points, the war for a berth in the Indian team is only likely to get intense in the last few rounds.