Indian men bow out of contention
On a disappointing day for India, the men’s team bowed out of medal contention after conceding another draw, while the women were tamed 1-3 by Russia in the ninth round of the 40th Chess Olympiad here.
The Indian men were held by the Georgians, who did not fancy their chances. The underdogs, however, came close to beating the Indian men but for national champion Abhijeet Gupta who threw caution to the wind when cornered.
K Sasikiran mishandled a slightly better position and drew with Mikheil Mchedilishvili on the top board while P Harikrishna also stood better but could only bring home a half point on board two. GN Gopal struggled from the early middle game stage and was eventually outplayed by Levan Pantsulaia on the fourth board. By then the Indians were looking at a painful defeat as Gupta only had a drawn endgame on board.
The Bhilwara lad, however, went for make or break and sacrificed a piece for three pawns in what was a dead-drawn endgame. Looking for an elusive victory, Gupta even landed in a lost position but fought on till Sanikidze returned the favour and landed in a lost endgame. In the end, Gupta had two queens against Sanikidze’s Queen and Bishop and the marathon had a sweet end for India after 105 moves.
Gupta’s win, however, did not change much for the team even as overnight leaders Russia were shocked by USA on the top board. As a result, Russia were joined at the top by China, Armenia and USA and what was looking like an easy ride for the Russians has now become a four-way tie at the top on 15 points each.The Indian men are on joint 17th spot now with 12 points.
Important results: Round 8: USA (15) bt Russia (15) 3-1; Philippines (13) lt to China (15) 0.5-3.5; Armenia (15) bt Germany (13) 2.5-1.5; Poland (13) drew Azerbaijan (13) 2-2; Ukraine (14) bt France (12) 3-1; Netherlands (14) bt Israel (12) 3-1; Serbia (11) lt to Argentina (13) 1.5-2.5; Hungary (13) bt Italy (11) 3-1; Georgia (12) drew India (12) 2-2; Vietnam (13) bt England (11) 3-1; Uzbekistan (12) drew Slovenia (12) 2-2; Austria (11) lt to Czech Republic (13) 0-4; Brazil (11) lt to Belarus (13) 1.5-2.5; Denmark (13) bt FYROM (11) 2.5-1.5.
Women: China (16) bt France (13) 3-1; India (13) lt to Russia (15) 1-3 Kazakhstan (14) bt Uzbekistan (13) 2.5-1.5; USA (12) lt to Ukraine (14) 1-3; Bulgaria (12) lt to Poland (14) 1.5-2.5.