Woman Grand Master Soumya Swaminathan outsmarted overnight leader and Woman Fide Master R Vaishali of Tamil Nadu in the ninth and penultimate round to jump back into joint lead in the Ram Ratna 42nd National Women’s Challengers Chess Championship here on Friday.

The victory on the top board enabled Soumya, of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, catch up with Vaishali, top-seeded International Master Tania Sachdev and WGM Bhakti Kulkarni of Goa on eight points and the quartet is virtually assured of gaining berths in the National A Championship in October for which the top eight from this meet would qualify.

Soumya and Vaishali played the Scotch Game, which is an alternative variation for Ruy Lopez. During the middle game Soumya’s domination was clear and on the 26th move she got a clear outside passed pawn in ‘H’ File that finally ended the game in her favour.

Tania, with white pieces against Goa’s WIM Ivana Maria Furtado, chose to play Queens Gambit Declined Ragozin Defence till the 24th move. Ivana was in a unclear position but the move ‘C4’ played by Tania helped Ivana to bounce back as it also forced Tania to sacrifice her Queen. The game resulted in a 2 Rooks vs Queen situation and the two agreed for a draw.

In board 3, WGM Kiran Manisha Mohanty (LIC) lost to Bhakti, who chose the French defense and took control of the game and won it to join the leading bunch.