National Women’s Premier C’ship: Nandhidhaa, Meenakshi join Padmini in lead

P. V. Nandhidhaa inflicted a shock defeat for third seed and former champion Soumya Swaminathan.

Samriddhaa Ghosh (left) held defending champion Padmini Rout to a draw in the fifth round of the chess championship in Surat.   -  P. K. Ajith Kumar

Quite an action-packed day it turned out to be at the Surat Tennis Club on Wednesday.

Some of the action was off the board, too, in round five of the Iwasa 44th National women’s premier chess championship. Of the action that happened on the board, the game between Samriddha Ghosh and defending champion Padmini Rout, rated a whopping 336 Elo points above, stood out.

Sporting spirit

There was also a stunning loss suffered by third seed and former champion Soumya Swaminathan, at the hands of P. V. Nandhidhaa. It was that game which saw a controversy, with Soumya complaining to the arbiter that her opponent had lost on time; the flag had fallen and Nandhidhaa hadn’t completed the mandatory 40 moves within the first 90 minutes.

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She, however, withdrew the complaint and agreed to play on, conceding the possibility that the clock might have malfunctioned, as claimed by Nandhidhaa. “It was sporting of her to have gone on with the game, though she was in a losing position,” said the Tamil Nadu player.

Soumya said she decided not to press her claim because her rival seemed so confident that she had made her move and an arbiter had also said that there were a couple of seconds left on the clock. “I could have gone ahead with the claim, but I would not have been happy to get a point in such a fashion,” she said.

First win for Nandidhaa

The two ladies went back to their Sicilian game, which Nandhidhaa promptly won in 48 moves. Soumya had blundered with her bishop on the 21st move and practically decided her own fate. Nandhidhaa, on the other hand, managed to keep her nerves and went on to post her first win over Soumya in their four meetings.

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The win helped her move into the joint lead along with fellow Tamil Nadu player S. Meenakshi and Padmini; they are all on four points, one point ahead of Bhakti Kulkarni, top seed Mary Ann Gomes and Soumya.

Chief Arbiter V. Vijayaraghavan said he would have been forced to give the point to Soumya if Nandhidhaa could not prove that the clock had malfunctioned. A little later, he had to settle another dispute, though it was of a much smaller nature: Srishti Pandey wasn’t sure if her Queen’s Indian Defence game was drawn, after 50 moves, because of the ‘photographic position’ rule (a position appearing three times during a game).

The Reti game between Padmini and Samriddhaa also ended with a repetition of moves, but neither would have been pleased during their analyses afterwards: there were too many mistakes and missed opportunities for both. The Philidor game between Swati Ghate and Meenakshi wasn’t anywhere near perfect either, with the latter pocketing a full point in 60 moves even after blundering her bishop for a pawn.

The results (fifth round):
  • Sakshi Chitlange 2.5 lost to Mary Ann Gomes 3;
  • Padmini Rout 4 drew with Samriddhaa Ghosh 1;
  • Soumya Swaminathan 3 lost to P.V. Nandhidhaa 4;
  • Bhakti Kulkarni 3 drew with Kiran Manisha Mohanty 2;
  • Swati Ghate 1.5 lost to S. Meenakshi 4;
  • P. Bala Kannamma 1.5 drew with Srishti Pandey 0.5.