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Mary Ann makes it a hat-trick

Amitabha Das Sharma
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REAPING A RICH REWARD:Mary Ann Gomes said she was delighted with the win, having prepared “intensely” for the tournament.— PHOTO: Sushanta Patronobish
REAPING A RICH REWARD:Mary Ann Gomes said she was delighted with the win, having prepared “intensely” for the tournament.— PHOTO: Sushanta Patronobish

Mary Ann Gomes of Bengal retained the National women’s premier chess title in a dramatic finish as she emerged the best in a three-way tie. The final round of the 40th edition of the event saw an interesting ending on Thursday as the overnight leader, Soumya Swaminathan of Petroleum, lost her game, allowing Mary Ann and top-seeded Tania Sachdev to join her at the top.

Mary Ann drew her final round game while Tania made a winning finish to form a three-way tie with 7.5 points each. The former was declared the winner for having the best tie-break score among the three, which she earned by virtue of remaining unbeaten in the tournament.

Tania took the second spot while Soumya had to be content with the third position.

Third hat-trick

Mary Ann became the third player in the history of the tournament to accomplish a hat-trick of titles. Rohini Khadilkar (1976-78) and S. Vijayalakshmi (1998-2002) were the others to achieve the milestone.

Vijayalakshmi, with five titles, still holds the record for most consecutive wins.

“It is a dream-come-true for me. I had prepared intensely for this tournament, and it feels great to have made it three-in-a-row,” said Mary Ann.

“Overall, I am satisfied with my performance, though I could have won a couple of more games and become the clear winner. But, I was consistent and never lost a game, which clinched the issue for me in the end,” she added.

Anxious moments

Playing white against Ivana Maria Furtado of Goa, Mary Ann faced some anxious moments as she ran into an inferior position against the 14-year-old National junior champion in a King’s Indian attack.

Despite being a piece ahead, an apparently nervous Ivana offered a draw on the 25th move, and the latter promptly accepted the offer.

“I am getting used to the tension of the final round ties. I had faced a similar situation in the last edition of the tournament where I emerged the best from a four-way tie,” said Mary Ann.

Soumya in tears

Padmini Rout did roommate Mary Ann a big favour by outplaying Soumya, who broke into tears after the “unexpected” loss.

Padmini, who had blundered against Michelle Catherina of Tamil Nadu to see her title hopes evaporate, showed remarkable composure while handling a queen-and-rook ending, and later converted her superior position into a win.

Tania recovered well from a bad start, scoring six points from the final seven rounds. In the final round, she outwitted B. Pratyusha of Andhra Pradesh in just 29 moves.

The second place finish justified Tania’s fighting spirit.

The results (11th and final round):

Bhakti Kulkarni (Goa) 4.5 drew with Swati Ghate (LIC) 6; Kiran Manisha Mohanty (LIC) 4.5 bt G.K. Monnisha (TN) 3.5; B. Pratyusha (AP) 4.5 lost to Tania Sachdev (AI) 7.5; Padmini Rout (Odi) 7 bt Soumya Swaminathan (PSPB) 7.5; Nisha Mohota (PSPB) 5.5 bt Michelle Catherina (TN) 3; Mary Ann Gomes (Ben) 7.5 drew with Ivana Maria Furtado (Goa) 5.

The final placings: 1. Mary Ann Gomes (7.5), 2. Tania Sachdev (7.5), 3. Soumya Swaminathan (7.5), 4. Padmini Rout (7), 5. Swati Ghate (6), 6. Nisha Mohota (5.5), 7. Ivana Maria Furtado (5), 8. Bhakti Kulkarni (4.5), 9. Kiran Manisha Mohanty (4.5), 10. B. Pratyusha (4.5), 11. G.K. Monnisha (3.5), 12. Michelle Catherina (3).

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