Negombo: Y. Prathiba of India took a step closer to win the girls title of the Asian Junior Chess Championship when she recorded an easy win over compatriot Mary Ann Gomes in the ninth round Friday.
With two rounds to go, Prathiba (8) has a 1.5 point lead over second-placed compatriot J. E. Kavitha.
In the open section, the battle heated when Indiaís S. Poobesh Anand (7) beat compatriot Abhijit Gupta to catch up with overnight leader P. Magesh Chandran.
Magesh drew the ninth round game with Prathmesh Mokal in a Sicilian game that lasted less than 20 moves. Mokal and national junior champion S. Arun Prasad are hot on the heels with 6.5 points each. Prasad beat Deep Sengupta (5).
Top seeded Vietnamese Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (6) was back in reckoning with an emphatic win over G. Rohit (5) of India.
The loss dealt a cruel blow to Rohitís medal hopes and his high rating may also take a knock. Prathiba continued her fine run defeating Gomes in a Sicilian Najdorf game that lasted 41 moves.
Early exchange of pieces saw some exciting middle-game. Both the kings were exposed, but in the ensuing melee, Prathiba emerged a pawn up. She nurtured her position well thereon to add a valuable point to her kitty. Andhra girl Nalluri Vinuthna held defending champion Tania Sachdev in a Kings Indian game lasting 47 moves.