Rakesh Rao

Swati Ghate stops Nisha Mohota

Harika, Tania play out a farcical draw

PUNE: One farcical draw and two deserving winners made it a four-player leaders’ group after six rounds of the 34th women’s National ‘A’ chess championship at the SIMS Complex here on Saturday.

It took just eight moves, spread over 26 minutes, for the overnight leaders, top seed D. Harika and the third-seeded defending champion Tania Sachdev, to sign peace. A friendly draw at this stage might well harm the two players as it suits those in pursuit of catching up. In fact, Kiran Manisha Mohanty and Swati Ghate, seeded seven and six, managed just that after becoming the only players to win four games so far.

Maiden victory

Kiran dented the hopes of local favourite and fourth seed Eesha Karavade by posting her maiden victory over the Woman Grandmaster in five meetings. Swati took time to overpower her former colleague from LIC, second seed Nisha Mohota in the battle of the former champions. Swati’s third successive victory also kept alive this city’s hopes of watching the crowning of another home-grown contender.

With five rounds to go, Harika, Tania, Kiran and Swati lead jointly at 4.5 points.

Kiran is fast gaining the respect of the country’s senior chess players. Coached by Niraj Kumar Mishra and GM R.B. Ramesh, this18-year-old National ‘B’ champion from Bhuvaneshwar does not get many opportunities to play in big tournaments but makes the most of the ones that come her way.

Rock-solid performance

On Saturday, Kiran produced a rock-solid performance lasting 28 moves. After dominating this Ruy Lopez game, Kiran put the finishing touches to a precise winning plan. Once Eesha’s development of pieces suffered soon after the opening and she sacrificed a pawn, Kiran gave nothing away. Eesha could do little as Kiran lined up her rooks down the central file having shifted the line of attack from the queenside. A combination saw Kiran expose Eesha’s castled king and hasten the end.

Eesha, the fourth seed, had drawn the last three rounds against the three higher seeds before crashing to her first defeat in the championship. Kiran, armed with a second successive victory, now plays Harika on Sunday.

The Nisha-Swati game was a battle of fluctuating fortunes. Nisha was better off in the middle-game and turned down a draw-offer on the 22nd move. Two moves later, it was Swati who gained from Nisha’s oversight and collected a kingside pawn. Even at this stage, Nisha could have pressed home the advantage but lost her way gradually. She had to give up a queenside pawn before Swati clinched the issue in 55 moves.

The results (sixth round): Tania Sachdev (4.5) drew with D. Harika (4.5); Nisha Mohota (3.5) lost to Swati Ghate (4.5); Kiran Manisha Mohanty (4.5) bt Eesha Karavade (3.5); Padmini Rout (3) lost to Aarthie Ramaswamy (4); Mary Ann Gomes (4) bt Sai Meera (3); Nimmy George (3) lost to Soumya Swaminathan (4); Ch Divyasri (3) drew with Amruta Mokal (3); Pon N. Krithika (3) drew with Anuprita Patil (3); Rucha Pujari (2.5) lost to P. Priya (3.5); Syed Nabeela Farheen (3) bt R. Preethi (2); M.R. Sangeetha (2) lost to S. Harini (3); P. Uthra (2) drew with Dhyani Dave (2); C.H. Savetha (1) lost to Swati Mohota (2); S. Athirai (2) bt Baisakhi Das (1).

Seventh-round pairings: Harika-Kiran; Swati Ghate-Tania; Aarthie-Mary; Soumya-Nisha; Priya-Eesha; Amruta-Padmini; Sai-Krithika; Harini-Nimmy; Anuprita-Nabeela; Rucha-Divyasri; Preethi-Athirai; Swati Mohota-Sangeetha; Baisakhi-Uthra; Dhyani-Savetha.

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