National Premier Women’s c’ship: Padmini posts second win on the trot

Meenakshi turns table on Bhakti on day of decisive results.

Defending champion Padmini Rout (left) beat Swati Ghate to become only player to win both her games.   -  P. K. Ajith Kumar

It is the earliest of days yet, but Padmini Rout has taken the sole lead at the 44th National premier women’s chess championship.

The defending champion from Odisha posted her second win on the trot at the Surat Tennis Club on Sunday. She thus has two points at the end of the second round, which saw all the boards except one producing decisive results. The second seed is followed half-a-point behind by four women – top seed Mary Ann Gomes, third seed Soumya Swaminathan, S. Meenakshi and P. V. Nandhidhaa. Nine rounds remain in this round-robin tournament.

Read: Meenakshi splits points with Mary Ann Gomes

Padmini’s opponent in the second Around was former champion and seasoned campaigner Swati Ghate, who adopted the Double Fianchetto Defence but had to pay the price for some inaccurate moves in the middle game. White took advantage of that and took the game into a pawn-ending that was clearly superior for her.

‘Pleased’

“She could have played better,” said Padmini after her 60-move victory. “I am pleased with the way I played, as I could make good use of the opportunity I was presented with.”

While Padmini was the last to finish her game, Mary, her main rival for the crown here, was the first. The Kolkatan took just 23 moves to beat debutant Srishti Pandey after choosing Blumenfeld Gambit.

Surprise for Srishti

White handled the opening badly and gave the initiative as early as the ninth move. Mary got her pieces together to launch a potent attack on the king-side, forcing Srishti to resign with mate just two moves away. “I think I surprised her in the opening,” Mary said. “After yesterday’s draw, I badly needed to win this game.”

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The woman who held her to that draw, S. Meenakshi, was facing a higher-ranked opponent for the second day in a row. The lady from Chennai defeated Bhakti Kulkarni, the National challengers’ champion and fourth seed who is rated 146 Elo points above her. Playing from the white side of a Dutch Defence, she was three pawns up when Black resigned on the 34th move.

Third seed Soumya Swaminathan and P. V. Nandhidhaa were the day’s other winners, over Kiran Manisha Mohanty and Sakshi Chitlange. The day’s only drawn game was between Samriddhaa Ghosh and P. Bala Kannamma.

  • Second-round pairings
  • Padmini Rout (PSPB) 2 beat Swati Ghate (LIC) 0.5; Srishti Pandey (Mah) 0 lost to Mary Ann Gomes (PSPB) 1.5; Kiran Manisha Mohanty (LIC) 1 lost to Soumya Swaminathan (PSPB) 1.5; S. Meenakshi (AI) beat Bhakti Kulkarni (AI) 0.5; P.V. Nandhidhaa (TN) 1.5 beat Sakshi Chitlange (Mah) 1; Samriddhaa Ghosh (Ben) 0.5 drew with P. Bala Kannamma (TN) 0.5.
  • Third-round pairings
  • Soumya v Padmini; Mary v Kiran; Bhakti v Srishti; Swati v Samriddhaa; Sakshi v Meenakshi; Kannamma v Nandhidhaa.