Two-time champion and International Master Padmini Rout of PSPB remained on course for her third title triumph in the 43rd National Women Premier Championship after signing peace with lowest ranked P Bala Kannamma in the ninth round encounter at Punjab Bhawan.
Playing with black pieces in a Sicilian Morra Gambit game, Padmini survived some anxious moments in the middle game against the fast-improving Bala but managed to escape unscathed after 46 moves. This crucial half point helped Padmini to take her tally to seven points out of possible nine to maintain her full point lead with two rounds remaining.
Her teammate Soumya Swaminathan occupies the lone second spot on six points after splitting the point with Kiran Manisha Mohanty in the ninth round battle.
After poor show in the last two rounds, second seed and six-time national champion S Vijayalakshmi produced a resounding victory over top seed Eesha Karavade in 52 moves.
Playing the white side of a London system game, Vijayalakshmi made sure Eesha did not run far away from her in terms of points and is now sharing the third position with the Pune-based on five and half points.
In other ninth round matches, former champion Swati Ghate of LIC defeated Mary Ann Gomes to register her fourth win in last five rounds while Nisha Mohota and Pratyusha Bodda outwitted Tamilnadu duo of R Vaishali and M Mahalakshmi respectively.
In the tenth round of Rs. 600000 championship on Sunday, Padmini is paired with Mary Ann Gomes while Soumya takes on Swati Ghate.
Results Round- 9:- Swati Ghate of LIC (4.5) beat Mary Ann Gomes of PSPB (4); Soumya Swaminathan of PSPB (6) drew with Kiran Manisha Mohanty of LIC (3.5); Nisha Mohota of PSPB (4) beat R Vaishali of TN (2.5); Mahalakshmi M of TN (4) lost to Pratyusha Bodda of AP (3.5); S Vijayalakshmi of AI (5.5) beat Eesha Karavade of PSPB (5.5); Bala Kannamma P of TN (4) drew with Padmini Rout of PSPB (7).