Padmini prevails over Nisha, keeps lead; Vijayalakshmi, Eesha bounce back

Along with Mary, a three-time champion, Nisha Mohota, Swati Ghate and Soumya Swaminathan suffered defeats after five of the six boards witnessed decisive battles.

Eesha Karvade in action at the national women chess championship

Top seed Eesha Karavade (pic) defeated former champion Soumya Swaminathan in the sixth round of the National women chess championship on Wednesday.   -  Rakesh Rao

Using all her experience, S. Vijayalakshmi carved out a much-needed victory over a previously-unbeaten Mary Ann Gomes as the sixth round of the National women chess championship saw four former champions end up losing side here on Tuesday.

Along with Mary, a three-time champion, Nisha Mohota, Swati Ghate and Soumya Swaminathan suffered defeats after five of the six boards witnessed decisive battles.

Padmini Rout, who has not trailed in the event so far, completed a hard-fought victory Nisha in 62 moves to retain the lead at five points.

Going into Wednesday’s rest day, Vijayalakshmi and top seed Eesha Karavade needed victories to offset the defeats suffered on Monday. As of now, Vijayalakshmi holds the second spot with 4.5 points, half a point ahead of Eesha who scored over her good friend and Pune-mate Soumya. M. Mahalakshmi also matched Soumya’t tally of 3.5 points after beating P. Bala Kannamma for a second straight victory.

Padmini may have missed an opportunity to dominate the proceedings against Nisha in their Caro-Kann game but did not lose sight of her rival’s weak kingside pawn-structure. She went on to exploit the weakness with the dark-squared bishop and won in 62 moves.

Vijayalakshmi, stung by Mahalakshmi in the sixth round, was expected to be come hard at Mary who was looking to improve upon her sequence of five straight draws. Playing from the black side of Ruy Lopez, Vijayalakshmi gained a pawn on the 29th move and appeared to be headed for a better endgame. She ended the game in style, capturing Mary’s bishop with an unsupported rook, with the plan to get it back two moves later. Mary saw the continuation and resigned at once.

The Eesha-Soumya battle started on an intriguing note. Playing black, Soumya took six minutes to respond with Sicilian Defence. Playing rather passively, Soumya yielded plenty of ground for Eesha to establish a passed pawn on the extremely queenside file. After simplification, with all four rooks on the board, Eesha’s pawn on the seventh rank proved too much for Soumya in this 51-move battle.

Mahalakshmi eased to victory over Bala after threatening to ‘queen’ a queenside pawn in an endgame involving a knight and a bishop for both players.

Pratyusha Bodda won the battle of tailenders by beating Swati Ghate for her first victory and joined the former champion at 1.5 points. Pratyusha’s advanced central pawn consumed Swati’s bishop before the Andhra girl reached a winning position with an extra rook. Swati resigned when the exchange of queens was inevitable.



The results (sixth round):

Mary Ann Gomes (2.5) lost to S. Vijayalakshmi (4.5) in 67 moves; P. Bala Kannamma (2.5) lost to M. Mahalakshmi (3.5) in 37 moves; Padmini Rout (5) bt Nisha Mohota (2.5) in 62 moves; Eesha Karavade (4) bt Soumya Swaminathan (3.5) in 51 moves; Pratyusha Bodda (1.5) bt Swati Ghate (1.5) in 47 moves; R. Vaishali (2.5) drew with Kiran Manisha Mohanty (2.5) in 47 moves.