Student shares chess title stalemate

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The Independent Online
DHARSHAN KUMARAN, 18, from St Paul's School, London, and Michael Hennigan, an engineering student at Bristol, shared first place in the British chess championship in Dundee yesterday, after one of the most exciting finishes in recent years. In the final round, Kumaran beat Keith Arkell to bring his score to 8 1/2 points, guaranteeing him at least a share of first prize. He then had to wait to see if Hennigan could catch him by beating Mark Hebden.

After a slow start, the championship reached a climax as the final round began with seven players still in contention. When it began last week, Julian Hodgson, winner for the last two years, was the clear favourite. His main challenge was expected to come from the only other grandmasters competing, Hebden and Colin McNab.

All three suffered setbacks and the running was taken up by a trio of young International Masters, Hennigan, Christopher Ward and John Emms. When Hodgson lost in the fourth round to Emms, drew an appallingly scrappy game with Hennigan in round six, then lost again in the eighth round to Arkell, his hopes of retaining the title had all but vanished.

After nine rounds, with two games left, Hennigan, 22, a former world under-18 champion, led with 7 1/2 points, just ahead of Ward on 7 and Emms and Kumaran on 6 1/2. In the penultimate round, however, Hennigan, Ward and Emms all lost.

When the last round began, Kumaran, a former world under-16 champion, shared the lead with Hennigan and Arkell, all on 7 1/2 points, followed by four players, including Hodgson, on 7.

Final scores: Kumaran, Hennigan 8 1/2; Arkell, Ward, Emms, Hodgson 7 1/2; Martin, Hebden 7.