GCL Brand Ambassador Bhakti Kulkarni is close to securing another title. The Goan chess Woman Grandmaster scored a clinical win over national women’s champion Mary Ann Gomes to help her team Air-India trounce top-seeded Airport Authority of India and take a crucial two-point lead at the National Team Chess Championship in Hyderabad.
“I am very happy that I am helping my team Air India to regain the gold,” Bhakti told ‘The Navhind Times’ on Sunday.
“My performance has been satisfying. I played three national champions, winning against Mary Ann, drawing with Nisha Mohota and lost to Swathi Ghate in a tough game,” the Goa Carbon Limited Brand Ambassador said.
Bhakti (2231) played Grunfeld defence to outplay the two-time national champion Mary Ann (2394). Though Bhakti was playing with a disadvantage of playing with the black pieces, she played aggressively to secure a solid win in 45 moves.
“The game was very tough and complicated and I was playing with black pieces, which was an added pressure. But I won a pawn in the opening and from that point Mary Ann was under pressure and also ran into time trouble… Then I kept the pressure till end and won a rook and then she resigned,” Bhakti said of her win, which helped Air India beat Airport Authority of India 2.5-1.5 in the fourth round.
After five rounds Air India lead the championship table with 10 points and Bhakti is confident that her team will win the title.
“I am confident about my team’s chances. However, there are no easy rounds in the championship and we need to be cautious. The team we face in the next round on Monday is a good team,” Bhakti said of AP Race, who along with Airport Authority of India are joint-second in the table with eight points.
Bhakti had begun her campaign by beating Gurpreet Kaur (1480) of Punjab State Chess Association but endured a loss to WGM Swathi (2246) of LIC of India. She next beat fellow Goan Krystal Fernandes (1495) of Goa Chess Association in the third round before drawing with IM Nisha (2327) in the fifth round.
Bhakti will now face Sahajasri Cholleti (2041) in the sixth round, in which her Air India team-mates IM Tania Sachdev (2397), IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman (2365) and WGM Meenakshi Subbaraman (2249) will also be in action on Monday. [NT]