Kolkata, Nov 23 (IANS) Defending champion and top seed, Odisha’s Padmini Rout on Monday annexed the Women’s National Premier Chess Championship title with a round to spare at the end of the 10th and penultimate stage here on Monday. Padmini, playing black against former national champion Tania Sachdev of Air India, was content to go for routine exchanges in a Queen’s Gambit declined. Her strategy paid rich dividends as Tania faltered in the rook and pawn ending, enabling Padmini to set up a straightforward win, with her extra pawn. Padmini, who plays the bottom ranked K. Priyanka in the final round, now has an insurmountable score of 8.5 points. Padmini’s nearest rival Swati Ghate of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), who beat V. Varshini of Tamil Nadu, has 7.5 points.
Even a loss in the final round would ensure the first place for Padmini as she has the better tie-breaking SB score. Swati, though, has a tough task cut out ahead, as she faces former World Junior Champion Soumya Swaminathan of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) in the final round. Swaminathan, Bhakti Kulkarni and Pratyusha Bodda are third joint with 6.5 points each. Ghate attacked with vigour and broke open Varshini’s kingside in a Sicilian defence. Swati penetrated Varshini’s position with her rook and minor pieces after which she obtained four extra pawns in a rook ending. Swaminathan won a couple of pawns against Priyanka Nutakki of Andhra Pradesh in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. Priyanka tried to salvage the position by sacrificing a piece to get back the pawns, but Soumya had little difficulty thereafter and checkmated her opponent on the 45th move. Kulkarni effectively utilised her queen and rook to deliver mate against the weakened kingside of Pratyusha Bodda of Andhra Pradesh. K. Priyanka drew against her state-mate Michelle Catherina as neither could make headway in a double knight versus rook ending. Results: IM Tania Sachdev (AI) (4) lost to IM Padmini Rout (ODI) (8.5), Swati Ghate (LIC) (7.5) beat WFM V. Varshini (TN) (4), Priyanka Nutakki (AP) (3.5) lost to WGM Soumya Swaminathan (PSCB) (6.5), WGM Bhakti Kulkarni (GOA) (6.5) beat WIM Pratyusha Bodda (AP) (6.5), WFM R. Vaishali (TN) (5.5) beat Neha Singh (BIH) (1), K. Priyanka (TN) (1.5) drew WIM Michelle Catherina P (TN) (4).