Mary Ann Gomes of Airports Authority of India stormed into sole lead by defeating her West Bengal teammate Nisha Mohota in the ninth round of the Velammal Educational Trust National Premier women's chess championship at the Nehru Stadium on Monday.

In a wildly-complicated game, Mary Ann prevailed in 37 moves after pinning and winning a knight on move 20. Nisha, who nearly trapped the white bishop, resigned in the ending after Mary Ann managed to save the bishop.

Mary Ann leads with seven points from nine rounds. Half a point behind her are Eesha Karavade (Mah) and Padmini Rout (Ori).

With two rounds remaining, the tournament is interestingly poised with a third sole leader emerging and at least five players having title chances.

Fourth straight win

Eesha scored her fourth straight win, this one coming in 26 moves with the black pieces. Tania Sachdev tasted her second defeat with white after she was all at sea facing the modern Benoni opening.

Having to hop her king to safety, black rolled the central pawns to win at least a bishop when Tania resigned.

Sheer middlegame skills gave Padmini Rout a 51-move win with black against Divyasree. Facing a Sicilian defence, Divyasree hurled her pawns forward intending to attack.

Padmini fixed them and chopped them using the double bishops and was four pawns ahead when white eventually gave up.

The results (round nine): Tania Sachdev (Del) 6 lost to Eesha Karavade (Mah) 6.5; Mary Ann Gomes (WB) 7 bt Nisha Mohota (WB) 5.5; C. Divyasree (AP) 5.5 lost to Padmini Rout (Ori) 6.5.

Michelle Catherina (TN) 5 drew with Kiran Mohanty (Ori) 5.5; B. Pratyusha (AP) 5 drew with Sai Meera (TN) 5.5, Swati Ghate (Mah) 4.5 drew with S. Meenakshi (TN) 5.

M. Mahalakshmi (TN) 4 lost to Soumya Swaminathan (TN) 5; S. Harini (TN) 4 lost to Bhakti Kulkarni (Goa) 5; J. Saranya (TN) 4 lost to R. Bharathi (TN) 5; Bala Kannamma (TN) 4 drew with Nimmy George (Ker) 4.5.

Swati Mohota (WB) 3.5 lost to Aarthie Ramaswamy (TN) 4.5; Madhurima Shekhar (Del) 2 lost to Pon N. Krithikha (TN) 4.5.

A. Akshaya (TN) 4 bt P.V. Nandhidhaa (TN) 3; C. Sahajasri (AP) 4 bt Supriya Joshi (Mah) 2; Shweta Gole (Mah) 3.5 bye.

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