Women’s national premier chess: Padmini, Swati still in joint lead

Kolkata: Defending champion International Master Padmini Rout of Odisha and WGM Swati Ghate of LIC continued to lead the fray with 6.5 points each after the eighth round of the women’s national premier chess championship here on Saturday.

With three rounds remaining, the tournament is poised for an exciting finish as Padmini meets Swati in the next round, in what could well turn out to be a decisive battle for the top place.

Young Pratyusha Bodda of Andhra Pradesh is second on 5.5 points. PSPB’s Soumya Swaminathan, who was leading till the sixth round, suffered her second consecutive defeat — this time against Padmini — to be relegated to the third spot with five points in his kitty.

Soumya, playing with white pieces, embarked on a dubious combination on the 21st move, which cost her a piece a few moves later. Padmini had little difficulty in thwarting Soumya’s attack and she herself gave back her extra piece to force her opponent’s king out in the open and push through a checkmate.

Swati, playing white, had little difficulty in converting her material advantage of bishop and knight versus rook against Tamil Nadu girl Michelle Catherina. Swati created a passed pawn on the queenside, whose advance Michelle was unable to stop and ended checkmating herself.

Pratyusha inched closer to the top with a victory against K. Priyanka of Tamil Nadu, with black, in a Sicilian defence. Pratyusha won a pawn in the endgame and carefully nursed it to the queening square after which her opponent resigned.

An out-of-form Tania Sachdev of Air India recorded her second win in the meet as she got the better of tail-ender Neha Singh of Bihar in a King’s Indian defence. Tania won a pawn on the 34th move in an already weakened kingside of Neha. Faced with a further loss of a piece, Neha resigned.

World U-14 champion R. Vaishali of Tamil Nadu won the rook for bishop against Women’s Grand Master Bhakti Kulkarni of Goa in the middle game and had little difficulty in converting her material advantage into a win in the ending.

Results: 8th Round

WGM Soumya Swaminathan (PSCB) (5) lost to WGM Padmini Rout (ODI) (6.5),

Swati Ghate (LIC) (6.5) beat WIM Michelle Catherina P (TN) (3.5),

K Priyanka (TN) (0.5) lost to WIM Pratyusha Bodda (AP) (5.5),

WFM R Vaishali (TN) (3.5) beat WGM Bhakti Kulkarni (GOA) (4.5),

Priyanka Nutakki (AP) (3.5) drew V Varshini (TN) (3.5),

IM Tania Sachdev (AI) (3.5) beat Neha Singh (BIH) (1)