National Team Chess: Dethroned Air-India women, Railways men eye runner-up spot

Leader Petroleum whipped Odisha-KIIT in both sections with 4-0 margins to maintain its all-win record. Now Petroleum is certain of reclaiming a ‘double’.

Air India’s former National champion Tania Sachdev won with white pieces against Rucha Pujari to help set up the much-needed 3-1 victory over AAI.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

With Petroleum sitting pretty after establishing unbeatable leads in both sections, dethroned champions Railways ‘A’ men and Air India women are gunning for the runner-up spots following the penultimate day of the National team chess championship here on Tuesday.

Leader Petroleum whipped Odisha-KIIT in both sections with 4-0 margins to maintain its all-win record. Now Petroleum is certain of reclaiming a ‘double’.

With a tally of 16 match-points, Petroleum is three clear of Railways ‘A’ in the open section. Likewise, among the women, Petroleum’s aggregate of 12 match-points is three ahead of Air India.

Air India’s two former National champions, Tania Sachdev and S. Vijayalakshmi won with white pieces against Rucha Pujari and Srija Seshadri respectively to set up the much-needed 3-1 victory over AAI.

Tamil Nadu expectedly defeated a top-heavy LIC 2.5-1.5 to move to the joint third spot. For LIC, Swati Ghate won and Kiran Manisha Mohanty drew but on the two weak lower boards, S. Jayaseeli and Bindu Saritha lost to Divya Lakshmi and J. Saranya.

However, Tamil Nadu’s chances of a podium-finish look remote since it runs into Air India. AAI should finish third after beating a lowly Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.

In the open section, Railways ‘A’ (13) scored a surprisingly easy 3.5-0.5 victory over LIC (10). If Railways ‘A’ finds itself as the only team in the second spot, the friendly 2-2 draw involving Railways ‘B’ (12 points) and Air India (10) has a lot to do with it.

Second seed Airports Authority of India got past Bengal ‘B’ with a three-point margin. On Wednesday, the clash between AAI and Railways ‘A’ will decide the second spot.

Important results:

Open: Eighth round: Petroleum (16) bt Odisha-KIIT (10) 4-0; Railways ‘A’ (13) bt LIC (10) 3.5-0.5; Railways ‘B’ (12) drew with Air India (10) 2-2; Bengal ‘B’ (9) lost to Airports Authority of India (12) 0.5-3.5; Bengal ‘A’ (8) lost to BSNL (10) 1.5-2.5; Tamil Nadu (10) bt Defence Accounts (8) 3-1.

Women: Sixth round: Petroleum (12) bt Odisha-KIIT (5) 4-0; Air India (9) bt Airports Authority of India (8) 3-1; Tamil Nadu (8) bt LIC (6); Himachal Pradesh ‘A’) (1) lost to Uttar Pradesh (7); 0-4; Himachal Pradesh (3) lost to Telangana (6) 0-4; Punjab (5) bt Karnataka (3) 3.5-0.5.