Padmini shares the lead with four foreigners Daria Pustovoitova, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Ann Chumpitaz and Anna Iwanow, each having 5.5 points after seven rounds.
In the Open section, Jorge Cori from Peru leads with six points, followed by Lu Shanglei, We Yi, S.L. Narayanan and Karen Grigoryan at 5.5 points each.
The story so far has been the failure of super Grandmasters (Elo above 2600) failing to dominate the event as expected. In fact, the lesser fancied and lower rated players have stolen the limelight, most prominently being Narayanan.
Vidit Santosh Gurjarthi, bronze medallist at the last edition and India’s highest rated player in fray, got bogged down by draws and a loss in the sixth round which have seriously jeopardised his chances.
Both Padmini and Narayanan have remained unbeaten in their respective sections, but the pace of the event has definitely slowed down in terms of scoring percentage.
Among other Indians to impress so far have been Ivana Maria Furtado and P V Nandhidhaa in the Girls section.
Cori has shown both aggressive as well as defensive skills while Wei Yei has also been steady. Top seed Vladimir Fedoseev, ranked in the top 100 in the World, has struggled while second seed Robin van Kampen and fourth seed Vidit appeared to have been frustrated by numerous draws.
Aravindha Chithambaram and Diptayan Ghosh are trailing one point behind the leader and are also in with a chance.
Thus, picking the winner is a hazardous exercise since the general strength of this tournament has risen over the years with many of the talented but under-rated players making their mark.