Bhakti Kulkarni in lead; Catherina checkmates Viji

Bhakti Kulkarni in the lead after a 35-move win over former winner Swati Ghate.

File photo: Bhakti Kulkarni (left) enjoys a half-point lead over former champion Mary Ann Gomes.   -  P. K. Ajith Kumar

Fourth seed Bhakti Kulkarni emerged as the sole leader after eight rounds following a 35-move triumph over former winner Swati Ghate in the National Women Chess Championship here on Friday.

Bhakti, one of the three overnight leaders, has seven points. She enjoys a half-point lead over former champion Mary Ann Gomes, M. Mahalakshmi and P. Catherina Michelle.

Catherina served a serious blow to the title-hopes of six-time winner S. Vijayalakshmi with a 53rd move checkmate after the Mary-Mahalakshmi encounter ended in a 31-move draw.

The results

Eighth round: Mary Ann Gomes (6.5) drew with M. Mahalakshmi (6.5); Bhakti Kulkarni (7) bt Swati Ghate (5.5); P. Catherina Michelle (6.5) bt S. Vijayalakshmi (5.5); P. V. Nandhidhaa (5.5) drew with A. G. Nimmy (5.5); Sakshi Chitlange (5) lost to Priyanka Kumari (6); K. Priyanka (5) lost to Arpita Mukherjee (6); S. Meenakshi (5.5) drew with Aarthie Ramaswamy (5.5); Kiran Manisha Mohanty (5) lost to B. Akshaya Mounika (6); S. Harini (5.5) drew with Chandreyee Hajra (5); Y. Saranya (5) drew with Niha Mohota (5).