Vijayalakshmi stays ahead in Asian Chess
It turned out to be another roller coaster ride for Vijayalakshmi, who missed out on winning opportunities which might have sealed the fate of the championship. While she could not force a victory, the draw was enough for the Indian to retain her lead with just the last round remaining in the premier Asian event for the eves. With 6.5 points in her kitty, Vijayalakshmi, however, has to tackle a tough opponent in Shen Yang of China in the last round.
Mary Ann Gomes, Shen Yang, Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan, erstwhile leader Mitra Hejazipour of Iran and Pratyusha Bodda share the second spot on six points apiece.
Bodda caused a big upset, defeating former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan. In the open section, the lead changed hands as local star <g data-gr-id="32">A <g data-gr-id="31">R</g></g><g data-gr-id="31"> Salem</g> Saleh swindled second seed Nguyen Ngoc Troung Son of Vietnam to jump to sole lead on 6.5 points out of a possible eight. It was a difficult position for Saleh right from the <g data-gr-id="29">beginning</g> but his tactical acumen came to the rescue as Troung Son failed to find the right path in the middle game that ensued from a Sicilian Najdorf.
Abhijeet Gupta played a quick draw with Surya Shekhar Ganguly and these two now share the second spot on six points along with Vidit Gujrathi, who accounted for Deep Sengupta in this round.
With just five places up for grabs from here for the World Chess Cup to be held next month in Baku, Azerbaijan, the battle is going to heat up in the last round as players from same countries will not be paired. As things stand, Gujrathi, Gupta and Ganguly all need a draw to make it to the World Cup. A little lower down, Krishnan Sasikiran and S P Sethuraman have both got 5.5 points.
A last round victory will take Sasikiran also to the World <g data-gr-id="28">Cup,</g> while Sethuraman is already qualified by virtue of winning the last National championship, which was regarded as the Indian zone tournament.