She came here with a hat-trick of titles at the National women’s premier chess championship. But then, Padmini Rout had to settle for a draw with her Petroleum Sports Promotion Board team-mate Soumya Swaminathan in the third round.

The reigning champion, however, maintained her sole lead, with 2.5 points at the Surat Tennis Club here on Monday. Following her half-a-point behind are Soumya, S. Meenakshi, P.V. Nandhidhaa and top seed Mary Ann Gomes.

After the excitement of day two, in which all but one game produced decisive results, the third round was bit of a disappointment, with four draws. The women to post victories on this day were Swati Ghate and Bhakti Kulkarni — who looked relieved after putting behind two eminently forgettable games behind her.

Padmini might have been disappointed at not making three out of three, but she didn’t show it, after her tough battle with Soumya, which lasted 56 moves. It all ended with seeds two and three repeating the moves in a rook-and-minor-piece ending.

Padmini, who employed French Defence, was a pawn down, but the position was drawn. “I had the better position after the opening, but I failed to capitalise,” said the second seed.

READ: National women's chess: Meenakshi splits points with Mary Ann Gomes

Mary had to face some anxious moments though before she drew with Kiran Manisha Mohanty, who adopted Petroff Defence and had a promising position before she erred on the 27th move. “The move she played was in fact my only hope, and she didn’t let me down,” joked Mary, who has 174 Elo points more, shortly after the game finished in 35 moves featuring opposite-colour bishops.

Swati too afford could to smile, that too for a happier reason, after her game with Samriddhaa Ghosh, who had opened with French Defence. The senior-most player in the tournament won in 40 moves, with considerable help from her younger rival, who made far too many poor moves to go a rook down and face mating threats.

Like Samriddhaa, P. Bala Kannamma too is pretty inexperienced at this level, but she played confidently to take a creditable half-a-point off Nandhidhaa, who is rated 132 points above. The all-Tamil Nadu affair lasted just 25 moves from a Sicilian Chigorin variation. It looked like a nice bit of home preparation from the white side by Kannamma.

Another Tamil Nadu woman, Meenakshi, had to work harder for her half a point from higher rated Sakshi Chitlange after 81 moves of Slav Defence.

Third round: Soumya Swaminathan 2 drew with Padmini Rout 2.5; Mary Ann Gomes 2 drew with Kiran Manisha Mohanty 1.5; Bhakti Kulkarni 1.5 beat Srishti Pandey 0; Swati Ghate 1.5 beat Samriddhaa Ghosh 0.5; Sakshi Chitlange 1.5 drew with S. Meenakshi 2; P. Bala Kannamma 1 drew with P.V. Nandhidhaa 2.