Round three of the Ramratna National Women’s Premier Chess Championships saw shocking results. Top seed and defending champion Padmini Rout of Odisha and her expected challenger R Vaishali of Tamil Nadu tasted their first defeats at Kolkata.
Former champion and world junior girls champion, Soumya Swaminathan beat Vaishali with the black pieces to join Pune mate Swati Ghate in the lead on 2.5 points from three rounds. Soumya won a corner pawn and used it to advantage in the knight ending to add one more pawn and win with ease.
The race for the 1.75 Lakh first prize is on and eight rounds remain to be played. With the big stars, Padmini Rout, Vaishali, Tania and Bhakti Kulkarni all losing early games, it remains to be seen if Pratyusha (2/2) and the two leaders can go all the way for a multicornered race for the title.
The uneven games is due to Vaishali having to receive a Presidential Award and Michelle having a swollen eye. The players are back and the round two rescheduled games will be played in the rest day after which clear leaders will be known.
Pratyusha who had a splendid showing the Asian Continental Championship at Al-Ain earlier this year, won against the top seed Padmini Rout after picking up a rook for a minor piece in the middlegame. Pratyusha hitback black’s early aggression in the centre to promote her queen bishop pawn.
The third surprise was Priyanka K holding overnight leader and 2006 champion Swati Ghate in a long rook ending. Swati won a pawn from a level rook ending but it was not sufficient.
The results (round three): Tania Sachdev (AI, 1/3) drew with Nutakki Priyanka (AP, 1.5/3); Priyanka K (TN, 0.5/3) drew with Swati Ghate (LIC, 2.5/3); R Vaishali (TN, 0.5/2) lost to Soumya Swaminathan (PSPB, 2.5/3); Bhakti Kulkarni (Goa, 1.5/3) bt V Varshini (TN, 1/2); B Pratyusha (AP, 2/2) bt Padmini Rout (Odi, 1.5/3); Neha Singh (Bih, 0/3) lost to P Michelle Catherina (TN, 1.5/2).