Natl women's chess: Padmini, Vijayalakshmi in hot pursuit of title

Padmini Rout holds a half-point lead over S. Vijayalakshmi with five rounds remaining in the National Women's chess championship.

Padmini Rout chess

Padmini Rout, looking for a third straight title, has so far managed to stay ahead of the pack with some pluck and luck.   -  Uday Deolekar

With five rounds to go in the National women's chess championship, the battle is hotting up with leader Padmini Rout’s half point lead being far from comfortable.

Padmini, looking for a third straight title, has so far managed to stay ahead of the pack with some pluck and luck. If her victories have come in a resounding manner, the draw against Kiran Manisha Mohanty was indeed a very lucky one.

Moreover, Padmini is chased by the vastly-experienced S. Vijayalakshmi who is here in search of her seventh National title. But for the surprise loss against M. Mahalakshmi, Vijayalakshmi could have well been in lead. In fact, one of the points of interest in this event is whether Vijayalakshmi could regain the title.

Top seed Eesha Karavade and Soumya Swaminathan could be in the mix should they raise the bar. So far, they’ve not looked like contenders.

When the action resumes on Thursday, after a day’s rest, there will be some very interesting encounters.

M. Mahalakshmi, with two back-to-back victories, appears ready to test Padmini, while Vijayalakshmi plays P. Bala Kannamma, the lowest ranked player in the 12-player field.

Mary Ann Gomes, a three-time winner, will be looking for her first victory of the event when she faces Kiran Manisha Mohanty. The experience of Nisha Mohota could test Eesha’s preparedness. Soumya Swaminathan, another former champion, will be looking to raise her tally at the expense of tailender Pratyusha Bodda. Ex-champion Swati Ghate will be eager to end her dismal run against rising star R. Vaishali.

Seventh round pairings: Kiran Manisha Mohanty (2.5)-Mary Ann Gomes (2.5); Swati Ghate (1.5)-R. Vaishali (2.5); Soumya Swaminathan (3.5)-Pratyusha Bodda (1.5); Nisha Mohota (2.5)-Eesha Karavade (4); M. Mahalakshmi (3.5)-Padmini Rout (5); S. Vijayalakshmi (4.5)-P. Bala Kannamma (2.5).