National Women's C'ship: Bala topples Vaishali

Playing against R. Vaishali, her more illustrious compatriot from Tamil Nadu, Bala made a mockery of the rating difference of 227 points that separated her from the 2015 National challenger champion and won their 26-move shootout.

Bala Kannamma plays R. Vaishali (not in pic) during their opening round encounter of the 43rd National women chess championship in New Delhi on Thursday.

Bala Kannamma plays R. Vaishali (not in pic) during their opening round encounter of the 43rd National women chess championship in New Delhi on Thursday.

In an elite field, the lowest-ranked performer seldom gets an opportunity to make his or her presence felt. For P. Bala Kannamma, the opening round of the 43rd National women chess championship here provided a chance to script a stunning upset and the 20-year-old did no wrong.

Playing against R. Vaishali, her more illustrious compatriot from Tamil Nadu, Bala made a mockery of the rating difference of 227 points that separated her from the 2015 National challenger champion and won their 26-move shootout.

On a day that witnessed four decisive results and two draws, defending champion Padmini Rout and S. Vijayalakshmi posted expected, but contrasting, victories. M. Mahalakshmi, the other winner, upstaged former champion Swati Ghate.

Top seed Eesha Karavade and her Indian Oil colleague and three-time champion Mary Ann Gomes strayed into unknown territory of the London System and drew. In the first game to finish, former champions Soumya Swaminathan and Nisha Mohota signed peace following three-fold repetition.

In the Sicilian game, Bala played solidly and gave nothing away from the black side. Vaishali, a two-time World age-group gold medallist and rated at 2300 against her rival’s 2073, tried too hard. Perhaps, Vaishali’s sense of danger let her down. The middle game saw a series of wild exchanges that left Bala better off. Vaishali’s desperate kingside offensive fizzled out and she resigned after 26 moves when faced with an inevitable checkmate.

Playing black, Vijayalakshmi chose the Sicilian Dragon and seized her opportunity to win two queenside pawns against an unsuspecting Kiran. She soon found a winning continuation with the help of her queen and rook.

In an interesting position, after calling the shots, Swati blundered away a bishop and resigned against Mahalakshmi. In the last game to finish, Padmini finally stopped Pratyusha Bodda in 64 moves, in an ending involving a bishop and two pawns each.

The results (first round):

Kiran Manisha Mohanty lost to S. Vijayalakshmi in 41 moves; M. Mahalakshmi bt Swati Ghate in 44 moves; R. Vaishali lost to P. Bala Kannamma in 26 moves; Eesha Karavade drew with Mary Ann Gomes in 26 moves; Soumya Swaminathan drew with Nisha Mohota in 27 moves; Pratyusha Bodda lost to Padmini Rout in 64 moves.

Second-round pairings: Mary-Nisha; Malalakshmi-Soumya; Vijayalakshmi-Swati; Bala-Kiran; Padmini-Vaishali; Eesha-Pratyusha.