Pune: Woman Grandmaster Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia won the World Junior Girls Chess Championship with a round to spare after defeating India's Srija Sheshadri in the 12th and penultimate round here today.
The Russian girl, who started the event as the defending champion, became the second girl in history after compatriot Ketino Kachiani in 1989 and 1990 to bag the back-to-back title in World Junior Girls Championship after tallying a remarkable 10.5 points out of a possible 12.
For the records, Goryachkina has an unassailable lead of 1.5 points going in to the last round and the nearest rival is Ann Chumpitaz of Peru who defeated Sabina Ibrahimova of Azerbaijan in her penultimate round.
Sarasadat Khademalsharieh of Iran jumped to the sole third spot on 8.5 points at the expense of Meri Arabidze of Georgia. The Indian aspirations suffered a setback as Padmini Rout was forced to split the point with Anna Iwanow of Poland.
Rout inched herself up to eight points in all and will now need some favourable results on other boards in the last round besides winning her own game for a podium finish. While all is not over, the chances for Rout look bleak along with Seshadri who also remained on eight points after the loss against Goryachkina.
Goryachkina was, in some ways, lucky to win her game against Seshadri who put up a brave front and was sailing on level terms till the endgame. However, the Indian made a strategic blunder leading to a difficult knight and pawns position wherein Goryachkina made most of her opportunities. The open section being held simultaneously was thrown wide open after top seed Vladimir Fedoseev crushed overnight leader Wei Yi of China. It was an incredible show of grit and determination by the Russian as he now joins the leading pack on nine points.
It's a four-way lead at the top now, with Wei Yi, Lu Shangli of China, Duda Jan-Krzysztof of Poland and Fedoseev in front as equals. The Indian challenge in this section almost faded out as Vidit Gujrathi and Murali Karthikeyan played out a hard-fought draw between them. Both Gujrathi and Karthikeyan are now on eight points along with Asian junior champion N Srinath.
he last round, however, promises to be exciting in this section and all eyes will be on the four leaders. The tiebreak might play a crucial role too in case of a deadlock.