Swati Ghate of LIC continued to lead the field with five points at the end of the seventh round of UBI 40th National women’s premier chess tournament here on Sunday. With four more rounds to go, the contest reached an interesting stage with three players — Mary Ann Gomes (Bengal), Soumya Swaminathan (PSPB) and Padmini Rout (Odisha) — remaining half-a-point adrift of the leader.

Playing against top seed Tania Sachdev of Air-India, Swati opted for the Queen’s Indian defence in reply to Tania’s queen-pawn opening. Both the players desisted from taking any risk apparently looking at the crucial stage of the tournament and agreed to a draw in 33 moves.

Defending champion Mary Ann played her third consecutive draw while playing black against B. Pratyusha of Andhra Pradesh in a Sicilian defence.

Pratyusha obtained a slight advantage from the opening but Mary Ann held her own in a difficult position to draw in a rook endgame.

Padmini joined the group in the second position with a fine win against Nisha Mohota of Petroleum, who opted for the advance variation of Caro Kan defence. Padmini won a knight with a pin against Nisha’s king after which the latter resigned immediately.

The results: Seventh round: Tania Sachdev (AI) 4 drew with Swati Ghate (LIC) 5; G.K. Monnisha (TN) 2 lost to Soumya Swaminathan (PSPB) 4.5; Bhakti Kulkarni (Goa) 3 drew with Michelle Catherina (TN) 1.5.

Kiran Manisha Mohanty (LIC) 3 drew with Ivana Maria Furtado (Goa) 4; B. Pratyusha (AP) 3 drew with Mary Ann Gomes (Ben) 4.5; Padmini Rout (Odi) 4.5 bt Nisha Mohota (PSPB) 3.

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