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Padmini Rout is the National Champion!

by Sagar Shah - 25/11/2015

With 8.5/11 Padmini won the 42nd Ramratna National Women Premier 2015 by a full point. The defending champion played a superb tournament scoring seven consecutive wins to seal the title in her favour with a round to spare. Her last round loss to K.Priyanka was surprising but did little to affect the tournament standings. Soumya Swaminathan got the better of Swati Ghate to clinch the second spot and Bhakti Kulkarni finished third. We have a detailed report with analysis and some exclusive pictures sent to us by IM Nisha Mohota. 

At the end of the sixth round Soumya Swaminathan was in the lead with 5.0/6. But a lot of action tok place from rounds seven to eleven, and Padmini Rout went on a cruise mode to win the championship with 8.5/11. This was one point more than any other rival in the field. So let's have a look at how it all transpired: 

The cross table after six rounds. You can read all what happened upto this point in our round three to six report
Let's begin with the seventh round. The most important game was definitely the one between Michelle Catherina and Soumya Swaminathan.
Michelle Catherina - Soumya Swaminathan, round seven
The position arose from an accelerated Dragon - an opening which Soumya hardly ever plays. Soumya's move f7-f5 is quite typical of her aggressive style. However, it is not a move which meets the demands of the position
Michelle simply took the pawn on f5 and brought her rook to c1. The threats of moves like Bg5 and Nd5 were too much for Soumya to meet. Her position quickly disintegrate and the young girl from Chennai was able to defeat the leader.
[Site "Bengal Gallery, RTI - ICCR : M"]
[Date "2015.11.20"]
[Round "7.5"]
[White "Michelle Catherina, P."]
[Black "Soumya, Swaminathan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B38"]
[WhiteElo "2242"]
[BlackElo "2341"]
[PlyCount "115"]
[EventDate "2015.11.13"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]

1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e4 c5 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 d6 7. Be2 O-O 8. Be3
Nc6 9. Qd2 Ng4 10. Bxg4 Bxg4 11. O-O a6 12. f3 Bd7 13. Rfd1 Rc8 14. b3 f5 15.
exf5 gxf5 16. Rac1 Ne5 17. Nd5 Ng6 18. Bg5 Qe8 19. Ne2 Bc6 20. Nef4 Bxd5 21.
Qxd5+ Kh8 22. Nxg6+ Qxg6 23. Bxe7 Rg8 24. Qxd6 Qh5 25. Bf6 h6 26. Rc2 Rce8 27.
Rcd2 Kh7 28. Bxg7 Rxg7 29. Qf4 Reg8 30. Rd7 Qg6 31. g3 Rf8 32. R1d6 Rf6 33. c5
Re6 34. Rxg7+ Kxg7 35. Qd4+ Kf8 36. Qh8+ Kf7 37. Rd7+ Re7 38. Rxe7+ Kxe7 39.
Qe5+ Kd7 40. Qd6+ Qxd6 41. cxd6 Kxd6 42. g4 fxg4 43. fxg4 Ke5 44. Kf2 Kf4 45.
h3 a5 46. a4 b6 47. Kg2 Ke3 48. Kg3 Kd3 49. h4 Kc3 50. g5 hxg5 51. hxg5 Kxb3
52. g6 Kxa4 53. g7 b5 54. g8=Q b4 55. Qa2+ Kb5 56. Kf3 a4 57. Qd5+ Ka6 58. Qc6+
Michelle Catherina (left) played simple and solid chess to get the better of Soumya Swaminathan
Soumya's loss gave Padmini and Swati the chance to take the lead with 5.5/7. In the eighth round a very crucial encounter took place between Soumya Swaminathan and Padmini Rout.
Soumya Swaminathan - Padmini Rout, Round eight
In the above position after Padmini played Ne8-d6, Soumya could have got a huge advantage with 21.Nxd6 Bxd6 22.Rxf6! The point of this neat combination is that the Bxe5 is met with the strong move Bd3!! Of course this was not at all easy to see, but it's combinations like these that make the difference. Soumya played 21.Nxf6? Now Padmini could have got a clear advantage with Bxf6 but instead she continued 21..Rxf6. Soumya again went wrong by taking the rook on f6 with her rook. Instead 22.Bxf6 gxf6 Bd3 Bg8 Rae1 would have given her excellent compensation. After Soumya's mistake of 22.Rxf6 Padmini obtained a huge advantage and won the game quite easily. All the above variations would be much clear when you will play through the game on our Javascript replayer below:
[Site "Bengal Gallery, RTI - ICCR : M"]
[Date "2015.11.21"]
[Round "8.2"]
[White "Soumya, Swaminathan"]
[Black "Padmini, Rout"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B83"]
[WhiteElo "2341"]
[BlackElo "2437"]
[PlyCount "96"]
[EventDate "2015.11.13"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be2 Nf6 7. O-O Be7 8.
Be3 O-O 9. f4 d6 10. Qe1 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 e5 12. Be3 a6 13. Qg3 Kh8 14. a4 exf4
15. Bxf4 Be6 16. e5 Ne8 17. Ne4 dxe5 18. Bxe5 Qb6+ 19. Kh1 f6 20. Qh4 Nd6 21.
Nxf6 $2 (21. Nxd6 $1 Bxd6 22. Rxf6 Bxe5 (22... gxf6 23. Bxf6+ Rxf6 24. Qxf6+
Kg8 25. Qxe6+ $18) 23. Bd3 $3 g6 24. Bxg6 Qc7 25. Rxe6 $18) 21... Rxf6 $6 (
21... Bxf6 $1 22. Rxf6 Rxf6 23. Bxf6 Nf5 $17) 22. Rxf6 $6 (22. Bxf6 gxf6 23.
Bd3 Bg8 24. Rae1 $44) 22... Bxf6 23. Bxf6 Nf5 24. Qg5 gxf6 25. Qxf6+ Ng7 $17
26. Bd3 Qd8 27. Qh6 Bf5 28. Bxf5 Nxf5 29. Qf4 Qd5 30. c4 Qe6 31. Rf1 Rd8 32. h3
Ne7 33. Qc7 Rd7 34. Qb8+ Ng8 35. Qf4 Qd6 36. Qf5 Rg7 37. Qf3 b6 38. b3 Rg3 39.
Qb7 Rxb3 40. Qxa6 Qc6 41. Kh2 Rb2 42. Rg1 Nf6 43. Qa7 Ng4+ 44. Kg3 Rb3+ 45.
Kxg4 Qxc4+ 46. Kh5 Qd5+ 47. Kh4 Qd8+ 48. Kh5 Rg3 0-1
With this win Padmini went into the lead with 6.5/8. But it was not a sole lead yet. Swati Ghate was showing some wonderful chess and was leading right along with her. 
As mentioned in one of our previous reports, Swati is an inspiration for all the women players in the country, in the way she handles her professional as well as personal life. [picture by Amruta Mokal at World Juniors 2014]
The ninth round pitted the two leaders Swati and Padmini against each other.
Padmini Rout vs Swati Ghate, round nine

The position was round about equal until this point but Swati's last move 16...g7-g6 turned out to be a horrible mistake. Padmini simply played h4! and the h6 pawn fell without any compensation. After that it wasn't too difficult for the top seed to convert the position.

[Site "Bengal Gallery, RTI - ICCR : M"]
[Date "2015.11.22"]
[Round "9.5"]
[White "Padmini, Rout"]
[Black "Swati, Ghate"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C55"]
[WhiteElo "2437"]
[BlackElo "2230"]
[PlyCount "87"]
[EventDate "2015.11.13"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Be7 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. Re1 d6 7. c3 Be6 8. Nbd2
h6 9. Nf1 Qd7 10. Ng3 Rae8 11. Bb5 a6 12. Ba4 b5 13. Bc2 Nh7 14. a4 Bf6 15. h3
Ng5 16. Nh2 g6 17. h4 Nh7 18. Bxh6 Bxh4 19. axb5 axb5 20. Ngf1 Bf6 21. Bxf8
Rxf8 22. Bb3 Nd8 23. Bxe6 Nxe6 24. Qg4 Bg7 25. Ne3 c6 26. Ra2 d5 27. exd5 cxd5
28. Rea1 d4 29. cxd4 exd4 30. Nef1 Qc6 31. Qf3 Qc2 32. Qd1 Qc6 33. Ra6 Qd5 34.
Qf3 Qb3 35. Nd2 Qxb2 36. Ne4 Rc8 37. Ra8 Rxa8 38. Rxa8+ Bf8 39. Nf1 Qb1 40. Ra7
f5 41. Nd6 Nhg5 42. Qd5 Qb4 43. Ne8 Qc5 44. Qxe6+ 1-0

Padmini moved into the sole lead with 7.5/9
Tania Sachdev - Padmini Rout, round ten
At first this rook ending looks completely drawn. However, on closer inspection we can see that the White rook is passive. Black king is much more active and the pawn on a3 is a weakness on an open file. Individually all this is not much. But when put together Black has a substantial edge. Padmini played a nearly flawless endgame and won the game with nice technique. Tania's bad form in the event continued.
[Site "Bengal Gallery, RTI - ICCR : M"]
[Date "2015.11.23"]
[Round "10.3"]
[White "Tania, Sachdev"]
[Black "Padmini, Rout"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D37"]
[WhiteElo "2385"]
[BlackElo "2437"]
[PlyCount "142"]
[EventDate "2015.11.13"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. c5 Ne4 8. Rc1
f5 9. Ne5 Nxe5 10. Bxe5 Bf6 11. Bxf6 Qxf6 12. Be2 c6 13. O-O e5 14. dxe5 Qxe5
15. Qd4 Qxd4 16. exd4 Ng5 17. b4 a6 18. h4 Ne6 19. Rcd1 f4 20. Bg4 Nc7 21. Bxc8
Raxc8 22. Rfe1 Rce8 23. Kf1 h6 24. Rxe8 Rxe8 25. Ne2 g5 26. hxg5 hxg5 27. g4
fxg3 28. Nxg3 Kf7 29. Nf5 Kf6 30. Nd6 Rb8 31. Ke2 Nb5 32. Nxb5 axb5 33. Rd3 Ra8
34. a3 Re8+ 35. Kf3 Kf5 36. Kg3 Re4 37. Rf3+ Kg6 38. Rd3 Rh4 39. f3 Kf5 40. Re3
Rxd4 41. Re7 Rd3 42. Rf7+ Ke5 43. Kg4 Rxa3 44. Rxb7 Ra1 45. Re7+ Kd4 46. Rc7
Kc3 47. Rxc6 Rg1+ 48. Kf5 Kxb4 49. Rc8 Rg3 50. Ke5 Rxf3 51. Kxd5 g4 52. c6 Rd3+
53. Ke6 Kc5 54. c7 Kc6 55. Rb8 Rd6+ 56. Kf5 Rd5+ 57. Kxg4 Kxc7 58. Rh8 b4 59.
Kf4 Kc6 60. Ke4 Rd1 61. Rb8 Kc5 62. Ke3 Kc4 63. Ke2 Rd7 64. Rc8+ Kb3 65. Rb8
Kc3 66. Rc8+ Kb2 67. Rb8 b3 68. Ra8 Kc2 69. Rc8+ Kb1 70. Rb8 b2 71. Ra8 Rd5 0-1
When the final round began Padmini had already won the championship with a round to spare. She was on 8.5/10 and Swati who was on second place with 7.5/10 had no chance of catching Padmini, as the girl from Orissa had won their personal encounter. In any case no one expected Padmini to lose the last round as she faced K.Priyanka who was rated nearly 400 Elo points lesser than the top seed. But the David struck and the the Goliath who had scored consecutive seven wins from rounds four to six, was finally defeated.
Padmini could have repeated the position on many occasions and made a draw. She had nothing to lose and she went for greater glory! But in this position she took her insistence a little bit too far. After Qg1+ Ke2 would have ended in a draw as Priyanka would have given a perpetual by Qg2+ and so on. However, Padmini went Kd2? which turned out to be a huge mistake as Qf2+ was immediately decisive. If the king went to d1 then Bf3+ would end the game and if the king went to c1 then Qe1 followed by Qc3 would be terminal. In the game Padmini blocked with Be2 but Priyanka had her reply ready and played d3! when Kxd3 is met with Qd4+ Kc2 Be4+ and this ends in a mating attack.
[Site "Bengal Gallery, RTI - ICCR : M"]
[Date "2015.11.24"]
[Round "11.4"]
[White "Padmini, Rout"]
[Black "Priyanka, K."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D03"]
[WhiteElo "2437"]
[BlackElo "2011"]
[PlyCount "120"]
[EventDate "2015.11.13"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "IND"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 d5 5. e3 O-O 6. Bd3 Nbd7 7. O-O c5 8. c3
Qc7 9. Bf4 Qb6 10. Qc2 Nh5 11. Bg5 e5 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Nxe5 Bxe5 14. Rad1 Be6
15. f4 Bg7 16. f5 Bd7 17. c4 d4 18. e4 f6 19. Bh4 g5 20. Bf2 Nf4 21. b3 Rfe8
22. Bg3 Nh5 23. Be1 Bf8 24. g3 Re7 25. Nf3 Bc6 26. Qe2 Ng7 27. Nxg5 fxg5 28. f6
Re5 29. fxg7 Bxg7 30. Bd2 h6 31. Rf5 Rae8 32. Rdf1 Rxf5 33. Rxf5 Bd7 34. Qh5
Rf8 35. Rxf8+ Kxf8 36. h4 gxh4 37. Qxh4 Qd6 38. Qd8+ Kf7 39. Bf4 Qe7 40. Qb8
Bc6 41. Bd6 Qg5 42. Qc7+ Ke6 43. Bf4 Qe7 44. Qc8+ Qd7 45. Qg8+ Qf7 46. Qc8+ Qd7
47. Qb8 a6 48. e5 Kf7 49. Bh7 Bf8 50. Bd3 Qh3 51. Qc7+ Be7 52. Kf2 Qg2+ 53. Ke1
Qg1+ 54. Kd2 $4 (54. Ke2 $11) 54... Qf2+ 55. Be2 (55. Kc1 Qe1+ 56. Kb2 Qc3+ $19
) (55. Kd1 Bf3+ $19) 55... d3 56. e6+ (56. Kxd3 Qd4+ 57. Kc2 Be4+ $19) 56...
Kg6 57. Kxd3 Qd4+ 58. Kc2 Be4+ 59. Kc1 Qc3+ 60. Kd1 Bc2+ 0-1
The giant killer of the last round K.Priyanka. The 14-year-old played well in her first National Premier scoring 3.0/11 and gaining some Elo. [picture by Nisha Mohota]
In another important duel of the day Soumya who was on 6.5 faced Swati Ghate (7.5/11). Soumya played a fine attacking game and in the middlegame it seemed as if she would just finish off her opponent. But it was not to be. Swati hung on and in the end even had chances to get the advantage. In the final moments of the game Ghate blundered and Swaminathan won the game.
Three players ended on joint second position with 7.5/11 - Soumya, Bhakti and Swati. As Soumya had beaten both of them she finished second. Bhakti had beaten Swati in their personal encounter and hence finished third. Swati who had a fantastic tournament had to be content with the fourth spot.
The final cross table 
Our dear friend Nisha Mohota was at the venue and sent us some exclusive pictures from the last day which we now share with you:
Padmini defended her title successfully, maintained her rating and went back with Rs. 1,75,000 as the first prize
The top three winners: Padmini Rout (centre), Soumya Swaminathan (right) and Bhakti Kulkarni (left)
The runner-up of the event Soumya played an excellent first half but couldn't keep up her momentum. Here she is seen with editor in chief of Diaspora times Ashok Motwani.
The top three players along with pride of Indian chess Surya Shekhar Ganguly (second from right), and Secretaty of WBCA Atanu Lahiri (right)
Bhakti Kulkarni outside Navneet Kunj - Nisha's residence in Kolkata
Swati had absolutely no reason to be upset with her performance here. She went back home with a rating gain of 38 points.
Pratyusha Bodda who made a WGM norm at the event is seen here with her mother
Chess-results website
All the games for download in pgn format