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Women's Challengers: S. Vijayalakshmi leads

by R. Anantharaman - 22/06/2016

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 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 chief arbiter R. Anantharaman brings us his illustrated report.

Women's Challengers: S. Vijayalakshmi leads

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.

IM Eesha Karavade — the top seed (Photo: Chess Illustrated)

The defending champion — twice world age category winner WIM R. Vaishali (Photo: Chess Illustrated)

WGM Soumya Swaminathan (Photo: Chess Illustrated)

At the end of seven rounds, six-time national champion S. Vijayalakshmi of Air India enjoys a slender half point lead over four others — WIM R Vaishali of Tamil Nadu, WGM Kiran Manisha Mohanty of LIC, J Saranya of TN and WGM Swati Ghate of LIC, who have 5 points each. Viji has so far five wins and two draws.

 

In the first round, fourteen-year-old S. Pooja of Tamil Nadu gave a scare to the former Under-18 world champion Aarthie R., who had to use her wealth of experience to extricate a draw. In the second round, Kolkata youngster WFM Arpita Mukherjee against her city mate Gomes. Kiran Manisha held the top seed Eesha on the top board in the third round.

 

By the end of the third round, the number of leaders was pruned to seven.

Women in Black — top seed and IM Eesha Karavade was held to a draw by WGM Kiran Manisha Mohanty in the third round.

Vaishali had a good game against WIM Mahalakshmi in the fourth round

Vaishali R. exhibited her prowess against world Under-18 girls’ champion M. Mahalakshmi of Tamil Nadu in a beautiful game arising out of French Defence.

White to play

Mahalakshmi declined the queen sacrifice leading to a checkmate and was forced to accept the knight sacrifice, a move later. The commanding positioning of her pieces helped Vaishali to pocket a point, enabling her to move into the joint lead with Soumya Swaminathan who defeated Srija Seshadri of Delhi, with a perfect score of four points in four rounds.

[Event "43rd National Women Challengers Chess Ch"]
[Site "Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Peri"]
[Date "2016.06.19"]
[Round "4.3"]
[White "Vaishali, R."]
[Black "Mahalakshmi, M."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2291"]
[BlackElo "2251"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Bd3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. a3 c4 8. Bc2 Nb6
9. Ng5 g6 10. Qg4 Bd7 11. h4 f5 12. Nxh7 $1 Rxh7 (12... fxg4 13. Bxg6+ Ke7 14.
Bg5#) 13. Qxg6+ Rf7 14. Nd2 Qe7 15. Nf3 O-O-O 16. Bg5 Rg7 17. Bxe7 Rxg6 18.
Bxd8 Nxd8 $16 19. Ng5 Rh6 20. Kd2 Be7 21. f4 Kc7 22. Rag1 Be8 23. Bd1 Nd7 24.
g4 fxg4 25. Bxg4 Bh5 26. Ke3 Be8 27. h5 b5 28. Nxe6+ Nxe6 29. Bxe6 Rxe6 30. h6
Bf6 31. h7 a5 32. Kd2 1-0

 

 

 

Pune-based Swati Ghate jeopardized the chances of her city mate and top seed Eesha Karavade by outwitting her in another French Defence game in the fifth round. (Photo: Chess Illustrated)
[Event "43rd National Women Challengers Chess Ch"]
[Site "Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Peri"]
[Date "2016.06.20"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Swati, Ghate"]
[Black "Karavade, Eesha"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2281"]
[BlackElo "2409"]
[PlyCount "40"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Bd3 dxe4 4. Bxe4 Nf6 5. Bf3 Nbd7 6. Ne2 e5 7. Nbc3 Bd6 8.
Bg5 O-O 9. Qd2 exd4 10. Nxd4 Re8+ 11. Nde2 h6 12. Bh4 Ne5 13. O-O-O Nxf3 14.
gxf3 Ne4 15. Nxe4 Qxh4 16. Nxd6 cxd6 17. Nd4 Be6 18. Rhg1 Kh8 19. Rg3 Bd7 20.
Rdg1 Rg8 1-0

 

 

 

 

 

She joined Vaishali and Soumya who drew with each other and Vijayalakshmi, who overwhelmed WIM Michelle Catherina of Tamil Nadu, each with 4.5 points. P. Balakannamma of Tamil Nadu caused an upset by beating Pratyusha Bodda.

Vijayalakshmi, who is in fine nick, outplayed Soumya to emerge sole leader with 5.5 points at the end of the sixth round. She further drew with WFM J. Saranya in the seventh round and now leads with 6.0/7. (Photo: Chess Illustrated)

Four others – Vaishali, Kiran Manisha, J Saranya  and Swati Ghate were behind her with 5.5 points each.

[Event "43rd National Women Challengers Chess Ch"]
[Site "Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Peri"]
[Date "2016.06.20"]
[Round "5.3"]
[White "Michelle Catherina, P."]
[Black "Vijayalakshmi, Subbaraman"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2135"]
[BlackElo "2384"]
[PlyCount "86"]
[EventDate "2016.06.17"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5 5. Nb5 d6 6. c4 Be7 7. N1c3 a6 8. Na3
Nf6 9. Be2 Nd4 10. Nc2 Nxe2 11. Qxe2 O-O 12. Ne3 b5 13. Ned5 Nxd5 14. Nxd5 bxc4
15. Qxc4 Be6 16. O-O f5 17. exf5 Rxf5 18. Rd1 Bf8 19. Be3 Rc8 20. Qe4 Rh5 21.
Bb6 Qd7 22. b4 Rg5 23. Be3 Rg4 24. Qd3 Qf7 25. a3 Bf5 26. Qxa6 Rc2 27. h3 Rg6
28. Qa7 Rxg2+ 29. Kxg2 Be4+ 30. Kh2 Qf3 31. Rg1 Bxd5 32. Rg3 Qf5 33. a4 Be4 34.
Rag1 g6 35. Rg5 Qf6 36. Qb6 Bh6 37. Qb8+ (37. h4 $1 Bxg5 38. hxg5 Qf8 39. Rg3
$11) 37... Kf7 38. Qa7+ Ke6 39. R5g2 Bf4+ 40. Bxf4 Qxf4+ 41. Kh1 Rxf2 42. Qa6
Bxg2+ 43. Rxg2 Rf1+ 0-1

 

 

 WIM Michelle Catherina lost to Viji in the fifth round

The crucial break: IM Vijayalakshmi of Air India outplayed WGM Soumya Swaminathan of PSPB in the sixth round to emerge as the sole leader.

 World champion for Physically Disabled WIM Jennitha Anto playing against IM Eesha Karavade

The defending champion WIM R. Vaishali of TN and former national champion Swati Ghate of LIC have remained unbeaten throughout.

 Former Under-18 world champion Aarthie Ramaswamy (right) has conceded four draws and a loss in seven rounds

IM Nisha Mohota (right) is yet to find her rhythm in the championship and is on 4.0/7.

 WFM J Saranya (right) has a good run so far. She is on 5.5/7.

Players have a conducive atmosphere to play in the air conditioned playing hall and also accommodation in a good hotel, just opposite to the venue. The championship is moving to the crucial second phase, wherein only players who hold their nerves and have a steely grit will blossom. Hence, more interesting games are in the offing.

 A beautiful view of the air-conditioned tournament hall

 Hotel Royal Paris, where players are accommodated

About the Author

Prof. Anantharaman is not only among the best International Arbiters in India but is an extremely well educated and learned person as well, who was the Head of Chemistry department in the college where he used to teach a few years ago. He is a member of Swiss pairings Programs Commission, FIDE, and has served as chief arbiter in

  • the World Schools Championship Singapore 2008
  • the Asian Individual championship 2005
  • the Asian Junior 2007,2008 and 2009
  • the Asian Youth 2009 and deputy chief arbiter in World Youth Vietnam 2008
  • and as Technical Official — World Mind Sports, Beijing 2008

 

Games in PGN

Pairings for Round 08