National Chess: Padmini Nandhidhaa post wins, share lead

Meenakshi, Soumya follow them half-a-point behind.

Padmini Rout defeated Srishti Pandey to move to six points.   -  Special Arrangement

On a day that saw Padmini Rout bouncing back to form, P. V. Nandhidhaa did little harm to her growing reputation. The two are now the only leaders after the eighth round of the Iwasa 44th National women’s chess championship at the Surat Tennis Club.

While Padmini and Nandhidhaa posted crucial wins over their lesser-rated rivals, the other two overnight leaders, S. Meenakshi and Soumya Swaminathan, were forced to split the point in their games on Sunday. On 5.5 points, they are half-a-point behind the leading duo, with just three rounds remaining.

Read - Saturday’s report: Meenakshi stuns Padmini, moves into lead

After her shocking loss to Meenakshi in the previous round, Padmini badly needed to win against Srishti Pandey, who isn’t exactly having a memorable debut in the Premiers. Playing from the black side of a Reti Opening, the defending champion from Odisha won in 47 moves.

Her younger rival had been playing well till she made a few weak moves to go an exchange down. Padmini looked pleased to have put the loss behind her. “It was one bad game, against Meenakshi, and something like it does happen in most tournaments,” she smiled.

Nandhidhaa defeats Mohanty

Nandhidhaa, too, was smiling after defeating Kiran Manisha Mohanty in 52 moves of a Sicillian Morra Gambit. She had a passed pawn in the centre in a rook-and-bishop ending, but had received considerable help from White to reach that winning position. Her fellow Tamil Nadu player, Meenakshi, was held to a draw in 42 moves by Samriddhaa Ghosh, the debutant who has been playing fairly well after a disastrous beginning. Their Queen’s Gambit Decline game was drawn by a repetition of moves.

Read - London Chess Classic: Anand draws with Nakamura

Soumya had to wait longer to get her half-a-point from Mary Ann Gomes, the top seed who is also her most familiar opponent across the chessboard. They have been playing against each other for more than 18 years.

This time around, it was a Sicilian Rossolimo Attack variation, from which it reached an opposite-colour bishop ending before the two friends decided to sign peace. One recalls them playing in the final round of the National sub-junior chess championship at Kozhikode in 2003. Mary had won that game, and thus the title, but she was weeping inconsolably, as Soumya would have got the bronze if the game was drawn.

Mary, though, has rarely been at her best here; she is lying eighth, with four points.

The results (eighth round)
  • Srishti Pandey 0.5 lost to Padmini Rout 6; Kiran Manisha Mohanty 2 lost to P.V. Nandhidhaa 6; S. Meenakshi 5.5 drew with Samriddhaa Ghosh 2.5; Mary Ann Gomes 4 drew with Soumya Swaminathan 5.5; Bhakti Kulkarni 5 drew with Swati Ghate 4; Sakshi Chitlange 4.5 beat P. Bala Kannamma 2.5.

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