Pune: Woman Grandmaster Padmini Rout played out a hard-fought draw with Russian girl Daria Pustovoitova to remain in joint lead after the end of seventh round of World junior girls' chess championship here today.
It was a pretty tense game which was fought till the last nail and past the half way stage, the Indian has raised hopes of a podium finish. It was a Sicilian Najdorf defense by Pustovoitova as black and continuing with her surprise-act, Rout went for a recently popular but less played variation. Pustovoitova did not know the right reprieve and fell under pressure after Rout sacrificed a pawn leaving the king side in tatters.
Pustovoitova however fought hard and after she was able to trade the queens the resulting endgame was manageable. The players fought on despite exchanges at regular intervals and the peace was signed only after 68 moves, when all but kings had disappeared from the boards.
Top seed and defending champion Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia, Ann Chumpitaz of Peru and Anna Iwanow of Poland joined Pustovoitova and Rout in lead on 5.5 points after the seventh round. With six more rounds to come the battle will now resume after the lone rest day.
In the open section being held simultaneously National Junior champion S L Narayanan made another step forward towards his Grandmaster norm by playing out another easy draw withLu Shanglei of China. The Indian took his tally an impressive 5.5 points out of seven games here and a draw in the next two roudns should be enough to fetch his Grandmaster norm.
The other Indian aspirants suffered setbacks in this section as Grandmaster Sahaj Grover went overboard and lost tamely against Karen Grigoryan of Armenia while top rated Indian Vidit Gujrathi was held to a draw by Irakli Beradze of Georgia.
Grover remained on 4.5 while Gujrathi took his tally four points and these two definitely need some big wins. Jorge Cori of Peru regained sole lead in this section after a clinical victory over Mikhail Antipov of Russia on the top board and moving to six points in all. Narayanan is the only Indian sharing the second spot on 5.5 points.
In the upset of the day, Anurag Mahamal defeated second seed Robin Van Kampen of Holland. It was a fine victory for the Indian in the Bishops and pawns endgame.