Chennai: Woman Grandmaster Mary Ann Gomes of AAI inched closer to her maiden National Premier Chess Championship title as she drew with International Master Eesha Karavade of Maharashtra, in the tenth and penultimate round of the 38th edition of the event in Chennai on Tuesday.

Gomes continues to lead the point table with 7.5 points and with superior tie-breaks ahead of her immediate followers she would need just a draw in the final round tomorrow against Kiran Manisha Mohanty to clinch the coveted title.

The second place is shared by IM Eesha Karavade of Maharashtra and WGM Padmini Rout of Orissa at seven points apiece.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gomes made her final IM Norm, with some dynamic play against Eesha Karavade. Gomes made Eesha face the Benoni opening and started rolling her pawns early in the game. By the turn of an hour, Mary had achieved more than equality.

Gomes’ deep middle game calculation was on display when she sacrificed a rook for bishop on the 23rd move, to cull out the advantage. Just when the game was poised for a big push, Gomes surprised Eesha with a draw offer, which the Pune player accepted.

Gomes has two IM Norms to her credit, the first one coming from Paris Open 2009 at France and the second one from Czech Open 2010 at Pardubice, Czech Republic.

She would now need to fulfill the rating requirement of ELO 2400, after which she would be awarded the title of International Master.

The second and third boards saw higher rated players viz, Padmini Rout and Tania Sachdev escape defeat narrowly. Padmini was let off by her Orissa state-mate Kiran Manisha Mohanty, who had a clear two pawn advantage in a rook and pawn ending after four hours and 65 moves of play.

Padmini’s resilience paid dividends, as Kiran misplayed the ending and drew the game after 97 moves.

In a similar situation, Chandika Divyasree let a golden opportunity to down top seed IM Tania Sachdev. The unorthodox Sicilian game saw the Andhra girl gaining ground slowly but surely. Time pressure that has been troubling Tania right though, played its role on Tuesday.

On completion of the first time control, Tania found herself in a clear minus position, with two pawns down in a rook and pawn ending. Rugged play by Divyasree, coupled with never-give-up play of Tania fetched the two time former Champion a crucial half point, after 100 painstaking moves.

Divyasree, despite missing a possible win against Tania, got her maiden Woman International Master thanks her draw on Tuesday.

Top final round pairings:

Mary Ann - Kiran, Eesha - Padmini, Tania - Sai Meera, Nisha - Divyasree, Sowmya - Nimmy, Meenakshi - Bharathi.

Results (Round 10): Eesha Karavade (Mah) 7 drew with Mary Ann Gomes (AAI) 7.5, Padmini Rout (Ori) 7 drew with Kiran Manisha Mohanty (Ori) 6, Chandika Divyasree (AP) 6 drew with Tania Sachdev (AI) 6.5, Sai Meera (IB) 6 drew with Nisha Mohota (PSPB) 6, Sowmya Swaminathan (PSPB) 5.5 drew with P Michelle Catherina (TN) 5.5, Bhakti Kulkarni (Goa) 5.5 drew with Meenakshi Subbaraman (AI) 5.5, R Bharathi (TN) 5.5 drew with Pratyusha Bodda (AP) 5.5, Pon N Krithika (AICF) 5 drew with Swathi Ghate (LIC) 5, A G Nimmy (Ker) 5.5 bt Aarthie Ramaswamy (AI) 4.5, P Bala Kannamma (TN) 4.5 drew with J Saranya (TN) 4.5, Cholleti Sahajasri (AP) 4.5 drew with A Akshaya (TN) 4.5, S Harini (TN) 5 bt M Mahalakshmi (TN) 4, Supriya Joshi (Mah) 2 lost to Swathi Mohota (WB) 4.5, Shweta Gole (Mah) 4 drew with Madhurima Shekhar (Del) 2.5, P V Nandhidhaa (TN) 3.