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Women's Challengers: Viji does it, yet again!

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 08/07/2016

For the past few years, National Women Challengers Chess Championship is attracting a lot of IMs, WGMs, and WIMs, competing for the eight slots available in National Women Premier championship. Premier championship is the prime event, leading to the selection of Indian team for Olympiad and other international events. The 2016 edition was won by IM S. Vijayalakshmi, while Michelle Catherina took the second place. Swati Ghate rallied well in the second half but missed out the third spot to M. Mahalakshmi. An illustrated report.

Women's Challengers: Viji does it, yet again!

For the past few years, National Women Challengers Chess Championship is attracting a lot of IMs, WGMs, and WIMs, competing for the eight slots available in National Women Premier championship. Premier championship is the prime event, leading to the selection of Indian team for Olympiad and other international events. Hence, this rush for participation in the Challengers Championship and 2016 edition, organized by Tamil Nadu State Chess Association in Chennai, is no exception.

 

The tournament has three IMs, five WGMs and eight WIMs to its credit and other innumerable strong players, who can spring a surprise on higher rated players. The defending champion is the twice world age category winner WIM R. Vaishali and the top seed is Eesha Karavade of ONGC. Besides, former National Premier champions WGMs Soumya Swaminathan of PSPB and WGM Mary Ann Gomes of PSPB, evergreen players – GM-elect and IM S. Vijayalakshmi, IM Nisha Mohota of PSPB, WGM Swati Ghate and WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy of Air India — add colour and charm to the tournament.

WGM Swati Ghate rallied brilliantly in the second half .

She first beat WIM Pratyusha Bodda (2346) and then WIM M. Mahalakshmi (2251) in the eighth and the ninth round to join Viji in the lead with 7.5/9!

Round 08: Black to play

Pratyusha, playing white, won a pawn early but neglected the safety of her king. As usual, this invited the honeybees to the sweet nectar in white's position and Black was at the cusp of victory. She could have mated in four here, but she missed it. Instead, she had to slog for 40 odd more moves to win. Still, an important win at that point.

[Event "43rd National Women Challengers Chess Ch"]
[Site "Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Peri"]
[Date "2016.06.22"]
[Round "8.4"]
[White "Pratyusha, Bodda"]
[Black "Swati, Ghate"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2346"]
[BlackElo "2281"]
[PlyCount "190"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 c5 8.
dxc5 O-O 9. e3 Be6 10. a3 Bxc3+ 11. Qxc3 g5 12. Bg3 Ne4 13. Qc2 Nc6 14. b4 f5
15. Bd6 Nxd6 16. cxd6 Qf6 17. Rd1 f4 18. exf4 Rae8 19. Be2 Kg7 20. b5 Ne5 21.
Qc3 gxf4 22. Qd4 Bd7 23. a4 a6 24. Kf1 axb5 25. axb5 f3 26. gxf3 Ng6 27. Qxd5
Nf4 28. Qd4 Re5 29. h4 Rfe8 30. Rc1 Nxe2 31. Nxe2 Rxe2 32. Rg1+ Kf7 33. Qc4+
Qe6 34. Qf4+ Qf5 35. Qxf5+ Bxf5 36. Rc7+ Kf6 37. Rgg7 Re1+ 38. Kg2 Bg6 39. Rxb7
Rd1 40. Rbd7 Ree1 41. Rg8 Rh1 42. Kg3 Rdg1+ 43. Kf4 Rxh4+ 44. Ke3 Rb1 45. Rdd8
Rb3+ 46. Kd2 Rd4+ 47. Ke2 Bf7 48. Rgf8 Kg7 49. Kf1 Rxb5 50. Rb8 Rxb8 (50...
Bc4+ 51. Kg2 (51. Ke1 Re5#) 51... Rg5+ 52. Kh3 Bf1+ 53. Kh2 Rh4#) 51. Rxb8 Rxd6
52. Kg2 Bd5 53. Rb4 Rg6+ 54. Kh2 Bxf3 55. Rf4 Bc6 56. Kh3 Rg5 57. Kh4 Bd7 58.
Rd4 Be6 59. Rb4 Kg6 60. Ra4 h5 61. f3 Rg1 62. Ra6 Rh1+ 63. Kg3 Kf6 64. Kg2 Rd1
65. Kg3 Rd4 66. Ra8 h4+ 67. Kf2 Rd2+ 68. Kg1 Kg5 69. Ra4 h3 70. Rb4 Bd5 71.
Rg4+ Kh5 72. Rf4 h2+ 73. Kh1 Kg5 74. Rf5+ Kg6 75. Rf6+ Kg7 76. Rf5 Kg8 77. Rf8+
Kg7 78. Rf5 Kg6 79. Rf6+ Kg5 80. Rf5+ Kh4 81. Rh5+ Kg3 82. Rh3+ Kf4 83. Rxh2
Rd1+ 84. Kg2 Ke3 85. Kg3 Bxf3 86. Ra2 Rg1+ 87. Kh4 Rg4+ 88. Kh3 Rg5 89. Kh4
Rg4+ 90. Kh3 Rg7 91. Ra3+ Kf4 92. Ra4+ Be4 93. Kh2 Rg2+ 94. Kh3 Rb2 95. Rc4 Rb1
0-1

 

Round 09: White to play

Step-by-step, Swati, this time donning the white pieces, sent her pieces towards the kingside, eventually overwhelming her opponent.

[Event "43rd National Women Challengers Chess Ch"]
[Site "Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Peri"]
[Date "2016.06.23"]
[Round "9.2"]
[White "Swati, Ghate"]
[Black "Mahalakshmi, M."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2281"]
[BlackElo "2251"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 cxd4 8. Nxd4
Bc5 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O a6 11. Nb3 Bb4 12. Bd3 b5 13. Rhf1 Bb7 14. Rf3 g6 15.
Rh3 Re8 16. Bf2 Bf8 17. Ne2 Nb4 18. Kb1 Nxd3 19. cxd3 a5 20. Nbd4 b4 21. Bh4
Qb6 22. Bg5 Bg7 23. Qe1 a4 24. Qh4 Nf8 25. g4 b3 26. a3 Rac8 27. Bf6 Rc2 28.
Bxg7 Kxg7 29. f5 h5 30. f6+ Kh6 31. Qf2 Qc7 32. Qe3+ Kh7 33. gxh5 Kg8 34. Qh6
1-0

 

In the tenth and penultimate round, she faced off against WGM Michellle Catherina (2135), who was among the younger contenders having a good run.

Round 10: Black to play.

Swati, who had the white pieces here, was already down an exchange for a pawn, but all her hopes evaporated after dropping another one.

[Event "43rd National Women Challengers Chess Ch"]
[Site "Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Peri"]
[Date "2016.06.24"]
[Round "10.1"]
[White "Swati, Ghate"]
[Black "Michelle Catherina, P."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2281"]
[BlackElo "2135"]
[PlyCount "64"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nd2 e6 5. Nb3 Nd7 6. Nf3 Ne7 7. Be2 h6 8. O-O g5
9. Ne1 Qc7 10. Bd2 c5 11. Nxc5 Nxc5 12. dxc5 Bg7 13. Bb5+ Kf8 14. Bc3 Bxe5 15.
Bxe5 Qxe5 16. Bd3 Kg7 17. Bxf5 Nxf5 18. Nd3 Qf6 19. Re1 b6 20. b4 Rac8 21. Rb1
Rhe8 22. Ne5 bxc5 23. Nd7 Qc3 24. Rb3 Qc4 25. Qa1+ Nd4 26. bxc5 e5 27. Nxe5
Nxb3 28. axb3 Qf4 29. Nd3+ Qf6 30. Qxf6+ Kxf6 31. Ra1 Re2 32. Ra2 Rxc5 0-1

 

Nevertheless, WIM Mahalakshmi M. came from behind to score two wins on a trot and take the third place on the tie-break with 8.0/11!

Michelle drew with WIM Vaishali R. (2291), the defending champion, in the final round to finish second with 8.5/11.

Round 09: Black just played 41...f6.

Michelle had been steadily pushing against WFM Tarini Goyal (1951), but the game was probably heading towards a draw; Tarini played 41...f6, which is when Michelle got the chance to up the ante.

[Event "43rd National Women Challengers Chess Ch"]
[Site "Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Peri"]
[Date "2016.06.23"]
[Round "9.3"]
[White "Michelle Catherina, P."]
[Black "Tarini, Goyal"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2135"]
[BlackElo "1951"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4b3/1pr1kp2/p3p1p1/P6p/1PPR1P2/3BK1P1/7P/8 b - - 0 41"]
[PlyCount "38"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
41... f6 (41... Rc8 42. Be4 Bc6 43. Bc2 Rc7 $11) 42. h4 Bf7 43. c5 Be8 44. Rd6
f5 (44... Rc8 45. Kd2 Rc7 46. Kc3 Rc8 47. Be4 Bc6 48. Bxg6 $16) 45. Kd4 $16 Kf6
46. Bc4 Rd7 47. Be2 Rxd6+ 48. cxd6 $18 Bd7 49. Bf3 Bc8 50. Bg2 Kf7 51. Ke5 Bd7
52. Bxb7 Bb5 53. Bc8 Bc4 54. Bd7 Bb3 55. b5 axb5 56. Bxb5 Bd5 57. a6 Ba8 58. a7
Bb7 59. Bd7 Bd5 60. Bxe6+ 1-0

 

Champion: IM S. Vijayalakshmi

Viji had a regal first half and had quietened up a bit. Towards the end, she was solid as ever, but she already had Swati, Michelle, Vaishali,etc breathing down her neck. Viji needed a win.

Round 10: White to play

In the penultimate round, in an equalish position, WFM Varshini V. (2129) decided to defend her rook with 35...Qc7.  Black had overlooked something.

[Event "43rd National Women Challengers Chess Ch"]
[Site "Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Peri"]
[Date "2016.06.24"]
[Round "10.2"]
[White "Vijayalakshmi, Subbaraman"]
[Black "Varshini, V."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2384"]
[BlackElo "2129"]
[PlyCount "111"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 c6 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8.
Qc2 O-O 9. Nf3 h6 10. Bh4 Re8 11. O-O Ne4 12. Bxe7 Qxe7 13. b4 Ndf6 14. b5 c5
15. dxc5 Nxc5 16. Rac1 Nxd3 17. Qxd3 Be6 18. Nd4 Rac8 19. Nce2 Rc4 20. h3 Rec8
21. Rb1 Ne4 22. Rb2 Nc5 23. Qd1 Na4 24. Rb3 Nb6 25. Qd3 Nd7 26. Qd1 Nb6 27. Nf4
Bd7 28. Qh5 Qg5 29. Qf3 Ra4 30. Rb2 Qe5 31. Rd1 Rac4 32. Rbd2 Rc1 33. Qe2 Rxd1+
34. Rxd1 Rc3 35. Qd2 Qc7 $4 (35... Rc4 36. Nf3 Qe4 37. Nxd5 Rc2 38. Qd4 Qxd4
39. Nxd4 Rxa2 40. Nxb6 axb6 41. Rc1 Rb2 42. Rc7 Bxb5 43. Nxb5 Rxb5 44. Rxb7 g5
45. Kh2 $11) 36. Nc6 Rc5 37. Ne7+ Kh8 38. Nexd5 Nxd5 39. Nxd5 Qd6 40. a4 a6 41.
Nf4 Qxd2 42. Rxd2 Bf5 43. b6 a5 44. f3 Bc2 45. Rd7 Bxa4 46. Rxb7 Rb5 47. Rxf7
Rxb6 48. Ra7 Rb5 49. h4 h5 50. Ne6 g6 51. Nf4 Bc2 52. e4 a4 53. Nxg6+ Kg8 54.
Nf4 Kf8 55. Kh2 Rc5 56. Ne6+ 1-0

 

 

Final Standings:

Rk. SNo   Name Rtg Club/City Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4   TB5 
1 2 IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman 2384 AI 9,0 0,0 7,0 73,0 78,0 63,25
2 12 WIM Michelle Catherina P 2135 AI 8,5 0,0 7,0 69,0 73,5 54,00
3 9 WIM Mahalakshmi M 2251 TN 8,0 0,0 7,0 67,5 73,0 50,00
4 7 WGM Swati Ghate 2281 LIC 8,0 0,0 6,0 76,5 81,5 56,75
5 3 WGM Soumya Swaminathan 2346 PSPB 8,0 0,0 6,0 72,0 76,5 52,75
6 1 IM Karavade Eesha 2409 PSPB 8,0 0,0 6,0 70,0 75,0 52,25
7 6 WIM Vaishali R 2291 TN 8,0 0,0 5,0 76,5 81,5 57,25
8 21   Bala Kannamma P 2033 TN 7,5 0,0 7,0 68,5 74,0 46,50
9 4 WIM Pratyusha Bodda 2346 AP 7,5 0,0 6,0 66,0 71,5 48,00
10 8 IM Mohota Nisha 2279 PSPB 7,5 0,0 5,0 63,5 69,0 45,25

See the complete standings here.

 

Games in PGN