Grandmaster Koneru Humpy regained her winning touch with a splendid performance against International Master Dinesh Kumar Sharma in the 8th round of 43rd National 'A' chess championship now in progress in Visakhapatnam.
The victory helped Humpy to retain her slender half point lead as the local star took her tally to 6.5 points out of seven games.
Defending champion Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly and International Master Deepan Chakravarthy remained the nearest contenders having six points each in their kitty.
With 13 rounds still to come in the 21-player event, Humpy has got an extra game in hand as she has already got her bye so effectively. The highest-rated girl in the world today has chances for extending her lead when Ganguly and Chakravarthy get their byes.
The fourth place in the standings after the 8th round is jointly shared by D P Singh, Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury and M R Venkatesh on 5 points each. Of the three, it was a memorable day for Jharkhand's D P Singh as he made his third and final International Master norm with one round to spare after scoring a fine victory over an off colour Sriram Jha.
In the 32nd women's championship, being played simultaneously, some more surprises were in store for the participants as overnight leader Swati Ghate was outdone by Swati Mohota in a game which will haunt the former for a long time.
Ghate was clearly on top in this game right from the opening but misplayed later in the middle game eventually to hand the point through a piece blunder. The dejected Pune based resigned on the 40th move.
However, the loss did not turn out to be too expensive yet for Ghate as she retained her sole lead despite the disaster. Only troublesome news for the leader was the fact that many of the fancied names took the opportunity to move closer to her.
Top seeded S Vijayalakshmi had an easy day against Alka Das while showing the class she is known for. Vijayalakshmi moved to 4 points after the win and is now on joint third.
Interestingly, both Ghate and Mary Ann Gomes, who were placed second before this round, lost and yet remained on top in the event. After some real fine performances in the championship so far, Gomes finally met her nemesis in defending champion Nisha Mohota who could draw some solace from the victory after a horrible start in the event.
Humpy was indomitable as ever against Sharma who played the black side of a Slav defence. Sharma had a reasonable position in the ensuing middle game but Humpy continued nonchalantly and found Sharma off guard when she had a passed pawn in the heavy pieces endgame.
Sharma collapsed badly once he was put under pressure and called it a day on his 45th turn.
Ever since he underwent training under Grandmaster Elizbar Ubilava of Spain, Deepan Chakravarthy has had a major turnaround in his performance. The Chennai-based former Asian Junior champion recently tied for first in the ONGC Cup tournament in Hyderabad, and here too he is a cause for concern for many bigger names of the game.
On the receiving end against Deepan was Abhijeet Gupta who was outplayed from a nearly equal position in the middle game. Losing a pawn after routine trading of pieces, Gupta found Chakravarthy's technique adequate in the end.
Ganguly once again had it easy against P D S Girinath in a French defence game where the latter played black. The defending champion was remorseless in this game and won in just 26 moves to remain within striking distance of Humpy.
Results round 8: Koneru Humpy (AP, 6.5) beat D K Sharma (LIC, 2); D P Singh (Jha, 5) beat Sriram Jha (LIC, 2); Abhijeet Gupta (PSPB, 3.5) lost to Deepan Chakravarthy (TN, 6); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (PSPB, 6) beat P D S Girinath (AP, 1.5); M R Venkatesh (PSPB, 5) drew with M S Thej Kumar (Kar, 3); B S Shivanandan (Kar, 3) lost to Sandipan Chanda (PSPB, 4); Abhijeet Kunte (PSPB, 4) beat R B Ramesh (PSPB, 4); Himanshu Shrama (Har, 3) drew with V Kamble (Mah, 3); Lanka Ravi (PSPB, 2) lost to Arghyadip Das (WB, 3.5); Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (WB, 5) drew with S Arun Prasad (PSPB, 3.5); S Kidambi (PSPB, 4.5) had a bye.
Women's results round 7: Swati Ghate (LIC, 5) lost to Swati Mohota (WB, 3); Anupama Gokhale (PSPB, 2.5) drew with I Ramya Krishna (AP, 3.5); M Supriya (WB, 2) lost to Nimmy George (Ker, 4); Aarthie Ramaswamy (IA, 2.5) lost to I Aiswarya Shobhana (TN, 4.5); S Vijayalakshmi (IA, 4) beat Alka Das (Jha, 3); S Meenakshi (IA, 3.5) beat Amruta Mokal (Mah, 3); D Harika (AP, 3.5) beat Eesha Karavade (Mah, 3.5); Nisha Mohota (PSPB, 3) beat Mary Ann Gomes (WB, 4.5); J E Kavitha (TN, 3) beat Soumya Swaminathan (Mah, 1); Kiram Manisha Mohanty (Ori, 4) had a bye.