Karaikudi, July 26:
Defending champion Bhakti Kulkarni of Air India continued her good run, outclassing teammate S Meenakshi in 37 moves in the ninth round to remain one and half points ahead of the field in the 46th National Women Chess Championship here Thursday.
Playing white side of modern defence, Women Grand Master Bhakti grounded fellow WGM Meenakshi to take her tally to eight and half points out of possible nine.
Meanwhile, Bhakti’s nearest rival, Vantika Agrawal of Delhi suffered her first defeat in the championship, going down to National Under-17 champion K Priyanka of Tamil Nadu in 70 moves in a modern defence game.
With this victory, Priyanka has moved to joint second position, along with Vantika on seven points.
In a surprise result, V Varshini of Tamil Nadu shocked top-seed WGM Soumya Swaminathan of PSPB.
Playing with black in a Pirc Defence game, the No.1 seed made a blunder on the 31st move to hand the advantage to her rival and succumbed to defeat in 46 moves.
A pack of eight players including third-seed Divya Deshmukh of Maharashtra and three times champion Mary Ann Gomes of PSPB are in third spot with six and half points.
Divya drew her ninth round match against teammate Mrudul Dehankar while Ann Mary Gomes got the better of former champion Swati Ghate (LIC).
In the penultimate round on Friday, Priyanka is pitted against Bhakti while WIM Vantika takes on Ann Mary Gomes.
Important results: Round 9: Bhakti Kulkarni (8.5) beat S Meenakshi (6.5); K Priyanka (7) beat Vantika Agrawal (7); Mrudul Dehankar (Maharashtra) (6.5) drew with Divya Deshmukh (6.5); V Varshini (6.5) beat Soumya Swaminathan (PSPB) (6); Mary Ann Gomes (PSPB) (6.5) beat Swati Ghate (LIC) (5.5).
Pratyusha Bodda (Andhra Pradesh) (6.5) beat Bagyashree Thipsay (Maharashtra) (5.5); Harshita Guddanti (Andhra Pradesh) (5.5) lost to P V Nandhidhaa (TN) (6.5); Michelle Catherina (TN) (6.5) beat Sakshi Chitlange (Maharashtra) (5.5); S Vijayalakshmi (6) beat Nandhini Saripalli (Goa) (5); Meenal Gupta (J&K) (5) lost to Srija Seshadri (TN) (6).
J Saranya (TN) (5) lost to Nisha Mohota (PSPB) (6); Isha Sharma (Karnataka) (6) beat Potluri Saye Srreezza (Telangana) (5); Rutuja Bakshi (Maharashtra) (5.5) drew with Parnali S Dharia (Maharashtra) (5.5); Aarthie Ramaswamy (Air India) (6) beat Sunyasakta Satpathy (Odisha) (5).