Grandmaster Koneru Humpy suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Diwakar Prasad Singh in the 13th round of the 43rd National 'A' chess championship in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.
Having been made to work hard in the event so far, Humpy was seen running out of steam against first-timer Singh who continued to impress in the premier event and is now a serious contender for a place in the Indian team.
With seven rounds still to go in the 21-player event, former Asian junior champion Deepan Chakravarthy maintained his sole lead with a hard fought draw with Arghyadip Das.
Chakravarthy took his tally to 10.5 points and is now trailed by defending champion Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly, who is just half a point behind. Humpy and Singh are next in line on 9.5 points while M R Venkatesh is on their toes on 9 points for his sole fifth spot.
Former national champion GM Abhijit Kunte's turnaround continued as he nailed B S Shivanandan to reach 8.5 points and right behind him is last year's runner-up GM Sandipan Chanda with 8 points.
While a lot can change in the remaining rounds, it seems that the race for the title will be between Ganguly and Chakravarthy and the former might have an edge as he has an extra game up his sleeves with Chakravarthy's bye slated in round 18.
The fight for the third place is getting closer with each passing round and all five - Kunte, Sandipan, Singh, Humpy and Venkatesh - can clinch that spot which will also ensure a ticket to the next Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy.
While there were some topsy turvy results in the main section, normalcy was restored in the women's championship running simultaneously with all higher ranked players making merry at the expense of their lower rated rivals.
Woman Grandmaster Swati Ghate continued her dream run and crushed Maji Supriya in the 13th round to remain in sole lead with 9.5 points.
Latest sensation Mary Ann Gomes made sure she remained on the heels of Ghate with a superlative effort against Nimmy George of Kerala and took her tally to 9 points.
Behind them are top seed S Vijayalkashmi and her younger sister Grandmaster S Meenakshi on 8.5 points while WGM D Harika and defending champion Nisha Mohota are also in contention for top honours with 8 and 7.5 points respectively.
Singh was in a way lucky to beat Humpy who had a good position when the endgame surfaced out of a Queen's Pawn Opening.
Playing black, Humpy refused an offer for a draw on the 24th move but failed to find the right maneuvers to improve her position which resulted in her defeat. For Singh, who had lost in the previous round to P D S Girinath, this was more than a welcome victory.
Ganguly played it safe against Sandipan Chanda and drew quickly.
Abhijit Kunte defeated B S Shivanandan while Venkatesh got the better of his BPCL teammate S Kidambi in other important games of the day.
Results round 14:
D P Singh (Jha, 9.5) beat Koneru Humpy (AP, 9.5); Abhijit Kunte (PSPB, 8.5) beat B S Shivananda (Kar, 5); S Kidambi (PSPB, 7.5) lost to M R Venkatesh (PSPB, 9); Abhijeet Gupta (PSPB, 6) drew with Sriram Jha ( LIC, 3.5); Himanshu Sharma (Har, 4.5) beat M S Thej Kumar (Kar, 5); S S Ganguly (PSPB, 10) drew with Sandipan Chanda (PSPB, 8); Lanka Ravi (PSPB, 5) drew with D K Sharma (LIC, 4); Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury (WB, 7) drew with R B Ramesh (PSPB, 6); Arghyadip Das (WB, 5.5) drew with Deepan Chakravarthi (TN, 10.5); P D S Girinath (AP, 5.5) drew with V Kamble (Mah, 4.5); S Arun Prasad (PSPB, 6) had a bye.
Women results round 13: Aarthie Ramaswamy (IA, 7) beat J E Kavitha (TN, 5); S Vijayalakshmi (IA, 8.5) beat Kiran Manisha Mohanty (Ori, 6); S Meenakshi (IA, 8.5) beat Soumya Swaminathan (Mah, 3); D Harika (AP, 8) beat Swati Mohota (WB, 4.5); Nisha Mohota (PSPB, 7.5) beat I Ramya Krishna (AP, 5); Mary Ann Gomes (WB, 9) beat Nimmy George (Ker, 6.5); Eesha Karvade (Mah, 7) beat I Aiswarya Shobana (TN, 5); Amruta Mokal (Mah, 5) beat Alka Das (Jha, 3.5); Maji Supriya (WB, 5) lost to Swati Ghate ( LIC, 9.5); Anupama Gokhale (PSPB, 3.5) had a bye.