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Humpy continues victory march

Maharashtra's Kruttika Nadig (right) who drew with Andhra Pradesh's D. Harika in the eighth round of the National women's `A' chess championship at Kozhikode on Thursday. — Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup  

KOZHIKODE NOV. 13. Koneru Humpy, that smiling assassin from Vijayawada, now has eight points from eight rounds in the Oilum 30th National women's `A' chess championship. That's quite a score to have, especially when you are playing in the country's premier domestic tourney for women. Having said that, she hasn't met any of her toughest rivals yet.

Second seed S. Vijayalakshmi of Indian Airlines is one girl capable of stopping her, and she is now in the sole second position with seven points. Two players, defending champion Aarthie Ramaswamy and Nisha Mohota, have six points apiece, after they decided to draw their eighth round encounter soon after the opening on Thursday.

Humpy's latest victims were Y. Prathiba of Tamil Nadu and Eesha Karvade of Maharashtra. The day was also memorable for the Pune lass Kruttika Nadig, who beat former champion Anupama Gokhale in the morning and followed that up with a creditable draw with third seed Dronavalli Harika of Andhra.

For another Pune girl, Swati Ghate of LIC, it wasn't exactly a day to remember, as she suffered another blow, going down to Saimeera Ravi of Indian Bank. She, however, did score a win eventually, in the eighth round, against Bhagyashree Thipsay, for whom nothing seems to be going right here.

Humpy faced Slav Defence from Eesha, who began promisingly before making a positional blunder on the 18th move and was doomed. White won in 26 moves, an exchange up.

Well-known coach, Evgeny Vladimirov, who's watching the games closely, commented that Humpy's rivals seemed to be too worried by her reputation. "They give the impression that they don't have the confidence to take her on," he said.

Humpy said she was happy that she could get off to such a wonderful start. "It's a pretty strong tournament too, and it's good to see the youngsters are doing rather well here," she said.

In the morning, she had gone back to Pirc Defence — once her staple diet — after more than a year, against Y. Prathiba of Tamil Nadu, who looked determined to put up a good fight. She did that, and there was nothing wrong with her position until she erred on the 26th move (she moved her queen when she should have rode her knight).

Humpy accepted White's knight sacrifice, a move after the offer, and took control of the game. She was simply a piece up for all practical purposes, and Prathiba was basically waging a lost battle. White eventually resigned after 50 moves, with mate just a move away.

In the eighth round, Vijayalakshmi defeated Anupama in 55 moves of English Opening, a rook up. In the morning, she had beaten the other veteran, Bhagyashree, who gave up after 40 moves from Pirc Defence straight after blundering a piece. "I'm not feeling well even now," said Vijayalakshmi, "so I just am trying to play simple positions and save my energy for the tough games to follow."

Kruttika faced French Defence from Harika in the eighth round and drew in 26 moves, after enjoying a better position. She repeated the moves to get half-a-point.

Kruttika, who had beaten Harika when they last met, at the Asian junior championship in Sri Lanka recently, was disappointed she couldn't win. "I should have won," she said, "but I missed some tactics."

She missed little in the morning as she overcame Anupama in 39 moves of Reti Opening. She won pawns on the 28th and 30th moves and also saw her blundering a rook in the very end.

Also in the seventh round, in a Four Knights Game, Saimeera made good use of a centre pawn gifted to her by Swati on the 16the move and went on win in 47 moves, having picked up another pawn.

The results (eighth round): Tania Sachdev (Del) 4 bt M.R. Sangeetha (TN) 1.5; Nisha Mohota (LIC) 6 drew with Aarthie Ramaswamy (TN) 6; Kruttika Nadig (Mah) 3.5 drew with D. Harika (AP) 5.5; S. Vijayalakshmi (IA) 7 bt Anupama Gokhale (BP) 2.5; Swati Ghate (LIC) 3.5 bt Bhagyashree Thipsay (IDBI) 1.5; Saheli Nath (Ben) 3.5 bt Saimeera Ravi (IB) 3; Koneru Humpy (AP) 8 bt Eesha Karvade (Mah) 4.5; S. Meenakshi (IA) 4.5 drew with Y. Prathiba (TN) 3.5; Koneru Chandra Hawsa (AP) 3.5 bt C.V. Rajalakshmi (TN) 0.5.

Seventh round: Chandra Hawsa drew with Tania; Rajalakshmi drew with Meenakshi; Prathiba lost to Humpy; Eesha bt Saheli; Saimeera bt Swati; Bhagyashree lost to Vijayalakshmi; Anupama lost to Kruttika; Harika drew with Nisha; Aarthie bt Sangeetha.