Kolkata, Nov 14 (IANS) Woman Grand Master (WGM) LIC’s Swati Ghate emerged as the sole leader after the conclusion of the second round of the Women’s Premier Chess Championship at the ICCR here on Friday.

Playing white, against former national champion and International Master (IM) Tania Sachdev of Air India, Swati was in control of the position throughout the game in an Italian defence.

Tania overlooked a manoeuvre on move 25, which resulted in a loss of pawn for her, a few moves later. In a technically winning queen endgame, Swati made no mistake and wrapped up the contest with ease.

Three- time national champion, city based Mart Ann Gomes, who was watching the games from the sidelines was impressed by Swati’s play here. “Swati is a dark horse, who is difficult to stop once she starts galloping,” she said.

When asked whom she considers the favourite, she said: “On current form, Padmini (Rout) is way head of the rest and is clearly the favourite as she is consistently playing well. But Soumya (Swaminathan) is also a strong contender and don’t forget R. Vaishali, who is upcoming and strong.” WGM Soumya of PSPB, too was impressive on the day as she outwitted K. Priyanka of Tamil Nadu by sacrificing her knight for three pawns in a Sicilian Najdorf.

With her opponent’s king in the centre, Soumya had a strong attack and kept up the pressure despite being exchange down. She ended up in a bishop versus knight ending three pawns up and eventually won on the 38th move.

Defending champion IM Padmini Rout of Odisha got the better of WGM Bhakti Kulkarni in a sharp tactical battle where Padmini sacrificed her knight on the ninth move for two pawns and an attack.

She later got a rook for two minor pieces and three extra pawns and went on to win the game with clinical precision. R. Vaishali of Tamil Nadu was paired against her teammate V. Varshini, but did not play as she was in Delhi to receive the award for excellence in chess from the President of India.

She will play her 2nd round game on rest day November 19. Round 2 results: Priyanka Nutakki (TN) bt Neha Singh (BIH) Padmini Rout (ODI) bt Bhakti Kulkarni (Goa) Soumya Swaminathan (PSPB) bt K. Priyanka (TN) Swate Ghate (LIC) bt Tania Sachdev (AIR).

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