Aggressive play and some smart board order had the Pune Attackers cruising comfortably without any hiccups. The six-team event, which was played at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana, started as a round robin league and saw Pune Attackers, Jalgaon Battlers, Ahmednagar Checkers and Nagpur Royals advancing to the semi-finals.
In the knock-out stage Pune Attackers and Jalgaon Battlers triumphed to reach the finals. Pune Coach IM D V Prasad fielded Padmini Rout, Lalith Babu and Amardeep Bartakke with white pieces, while Jalgaon Battlers opted to field their stronger players with the whites.
Lalith Babu opened the Pune account with a decisive victory against WGM Meenakshi S wnning after 45 moves. Padmini Rout also scored a superb hit with the White pieces, defeating Sameer Kathmale after 59 moves of a Caro-Kann Defence.
Akshayraj Kore, Pune's star player interestingly played with blacks against talented teenager N Srinath and the game ended in a draw after 95 moves.
Swati Ghate also rose magnificiently to the occasion with the black pieces and held higher ranked S Narayanan to a draw after 56 moves. In fact the only move that backfired for the Pune Attackers was the loss of Himashu Sharma with the lack pieces to young GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi. Amardeep Bartakke also helped Pune's cause by holding higher rated IM Eesha Karavade to a draw after appearing in an inferior position for most part of the game. The award for the Best Player of the League was won by Ahmednager Checkers player, GM M R Venkatesh, who scored a superb 7/7, which was a fine achievement considering the presence of high elo and titles in the event. Teenage WGM Padmini Rout (photo left) of Pune Attackers was adjudged the best woman player. (PTI)
Team Pune Attackers: Introduction
The team is led by 20-year-old Commonwealth Chess Champion Lalith Babu (2565) hailing from Andhra Pradesh. Pune also bid to obtain 24-year-old IM Akshayraj Kore (2512), 19-year-old Padmini Rout (2347), former women's national champion 33-year-old Swati Ghate (2260), Himanshu Sharma (2403) and Amardeep Bartakke. Pune had six players without any reserve so their team members had to play all the rounds. It was compulsory to field two women players in each team, so Pune Attackers did well to have two WGMs.