Vaishali R takes sole lead in women's chess

Woman Fide Master Vaishali R jumped ahead of the rest to take the sole lead in the Ram Ratna 42nd National Women's Challenger Chess Tournament in Mumbai on Sunday.

The Tamil Nadu player shocked Woman Grand Master Bhakti Kulkarni of Goa in a 5th round clash in the tournament conducted by the Maharashtra Chess Association (MCA) at Rambhau Mhalgi Probodhni Keshav Shrusti.

Playing on the second board, Vaishali opted for an English opening with a pawn structure against her Goan opponent. In the middle game she destroyed Bhakti's pawn structure of the Kingside and generated a strong attack.

After Bhakti had a misplaced Knight on the Queen side, Vaishali went for the kill and, on the 29th move, won a Rook, forcing her opponent to resign.

On the top board WIM Michelle Catherina P, also from Tamil Nadu, continued her good form to hold IM Nisha Mohota for a draw.

Nisha opted for Alekhine defense, which is rarely played at top level, but Catherina played well and Nisha agreed for a draw with pawn up when no progress could be made.

IM Tania Sachdev of Air India, after two consecutive draws, could finally muster a win over WFM Srija Seshadri. WGM Soumya Swaminathan of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board had another bad day losing to Priyanka Nutakki of Andhra Pradesh.

At the end of five rounds, WFM Vaishali is leading with 5 points followed by IM Nisha Mohota, Nimmy AG and Michelle Catherina, all with 4.5 points each.

The event is being organised under the auspices of the All India Chess Federation and in association with the Thane  District Chess Association.

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