R. Vaishali made an impressive start to her campaign in the prestigious Women’s Grand Prix when she drew with second-seeded Russian Kateryna Lagno in 31 moves in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Sunday.
Vaishali, the second lowest-ranked player in the 12-player field, joined the fray after Koneru Humpy withdrew citing personal reasons.
The battle was fought on an even keel with the young Indian putting up a fine display with the black pieces. When the players signed peace, they had a rook and five pawns.
In the two decisive battles, top seed Aleksandra Goryachkina scored over her Russian compatriot and former World junior girls champion Polina Shuvalova and Germany’s Elisabeth Paehtz defeated teammate Dinara Wagner to emerge as early leaders.
The event is the first of the four stages of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix to decide two places of the 2023 Candidates Tournament. Sixteen players compete in the series, each playing three of the four events.
The time-control is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes till the end. A 30-second increment is added to the players’ time for every move they make.
The prize fund is 80,000 euros with the winner receiving 15,000 euros and 160 Grand Prix points.