|WGM Eesha Karavade|
One of India's female chess stars playing in the Championship
CHENNAI: Women GMs Mary Ann Gomes and Meenakshi Subbaraman, IM Nisha Mohota and Candidate Master Bhakti Kulkarni shared the top spot with two points each at the end of the second round of the Velammal Educational Trust 38th National Women Premier Chess Championships on Sunday.
With six players including top seed Tania Sachdev following the leaders with 1.5 points each, Mary Ann Gomes of Kolkata was impressive in her win against Chandika Divyasree of Andhra Pradesh.
Mary opted for the slow Reti system with the white pieces. Divyasree chose to exchange the major pieces in the only open King file and, with the rooks and queen exchanged, she took the game into a double minor piece ending in a bid to draw the game.
But Mary, after spotting a weakness in the Black camp on the queenside, quickly pounced on it by sacrificing a piece on her 42nd move, which enabled her to roll out her passed pawns faster.
With Divyasree trying to match her opponent's skills by slowing down on the queenside, Mary made inroads into the kingside with her king to notch up a morale-boosting win in 68 moves.
In the adjacent table, Meenakshi scored over M Saimeera of Indian Bank. Meenakshi, playing black, opted for the Modern Defence against the King pawn opening of Saimeera.
Saimeera impulsively sacrificed a piece on the 18th move in a bid to halt the Black king in the center to facilitate an easy attack.
But the wily Meenakshi made a deft king move in the center, a move Saimeera could have possibly missed in her calculations. After that move, white's attack came to a halt and Meenakshi had no problems in converting the advantage into a full point in 36 moves.
In the next table, Aarthie faced the Alekine Defence offered by Nisha. A slight inaccuracy by Aarthie in the opening phase allowed an easy equality for Black. Nisha occupied the open Queen file with her rooks and combined threats against Aarthie's castled king. Unable to parry the various threats, Aarthie gave up a pawn after which it was a matter of pure technique for Nisha who won in 41 moves.
Bhakti of Goa faced the Slav Defence offered by R Bharathi. In a seemingly equal position, Bharati unwisely opted for an exchange of Knights and the Queen saddling herself with an isolated pawn on the 29th move. Bhakti handled the resultant Bishop ending with ease to pocket full point and move into joint lead.
On the top table, Tania opted for the Ruy Lopez opening against Swathi of Maharashtra. Swathi, playing white, had the upper hand all through the game. With pieces getting traded at regular intervals, the players reached a double rook ending, with Tania being passively placed. Swathi eventually won a pawn and was seemingly winning, but Tania put up dour resistance. With Tania's stiff resistance and due to her own lack of touch, Swathi bungled up a few winning chances and had to be content with a draw after 74 moves.
Results (Round 2) :
Swathi Ghate (LIC) 1.5 drew with Tania Sachdev (Del) 1.5,
A G Nimmy (Ker) 1.5 drew with Eesha Karavade (Mah) 1.5,
Mary Ann Gomes (AAI) 2 bt C Divyasree (AP) 1,
Aarthie Ramaswamy (IA) 1 lost to Nisha Mohota (PSPB) 2,
Sai Meera (IB) 1 lost to S Meenakshi (IA) 2,
Bhakti Kulkarni (Goa) 2 bt R Bharathi (TN) 1,
Padmini Rout (Ori) 1 drew with Pratyusha Bodda (AP) 1.5,
A Akshaya (TN) 0.5 lost to J Saranya (TN) 1.5,
Soumya Swaminathan (PSPB) 1 beat Kiran Manisha Mohanty (Ori) 0.5,
Bayashree Thipsay (AICF) 0.5 drew with Swati Mohota (WB) 0.5,
P V Nandhidhaa (TN) lost to Shweta Gole (Mah) 1,
M Mahalakshmi (TN) 1 bt P Michelle Catherina (TN),
C Sahajasri (AP) 1 bt P Bala Kannamma (TN),
S Harini (TN) 1 bt Madhurima Shekhar (Del),
Supriya Joshi (Mah) lost to Pon N Krithika (TN) 1.