Indians off the blocks in style

The Indian men and women's teams made winning starts to their campaign in the 43rd Chess Olympiad here on Tuesday.

The women blanked New Zealand 4-0 with only Tania Sachdev facing some real troubles while the trio of Koneru Humpy, Eesha Karavade and Padmini Rout recorded easy victories.

On a day when Viswanathan Anand was rested, Krishnan Sasikiran dropped a half point on the fourth board but that was only after P Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi and B Adhiban had secured victories on the top three boards to ensure a 3.5-0.5 win for the team over El Salvador.

The Indian teams got two match points following the victory as the day produced some individual upsets but the higher ranked teams prevailed.

Not a single match was drawn and this could be a record of sorts too. In the open section as many as 64 teams out of 184 scored a perfect 4-0 start and another 17 won conceding just a half point.

Amongst the favourites, the United States and Russia romped home with 4-0 wins but third-seeded China could only manage a 3-1 score with Li Chao losing to Aithmidou Mohamed-Mehdi of Morocco.

Fourth seed Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Armenia were the other fancied teams that dropped a half point apart from India.

In the women's section, the story was no different. With 151 participating countries here, 55 won with a perfect score but the biggest individual upsets came for the strongest teams as top seed Russia and third seed China dropped a half point each against Costa Rica and Tajikistan respectively.

For the Indian men, Harikrishna routed Ernesto Giron in quick time and Adhiban had little troubles to win as white against Daniel Arias.

Gujrathi showcased his skills at the expense of Ricardo Ernesto Chavez but Sasikiran faced some troubles and had to split the point with Carlos Burgos Figueroa.

Sasikiran with black faced initial difficulties despite a huge rating difference and sacrificed a pawn to reach what looked like a promising endgame optically.

With some precise defence from his opponent, the Indian decided to take the draw as the team had won anyway.

Humpy played her first competitive game in two years and it did not look like she had been away for a long time. With some clinical precision, the Indian GM nailed Helen Milligan with black pieces.

Jasmir Haomo Zhang proved no match for Karavade despite showing some early promise while Qin Nicole Shu Yu lost to Padmini Rout in another one-sided duel on the fourth board.

Tania came back from the jaws of defeat and even scored a win after Vyanla Punsalan went haywire by first missing out on a chance to create a big upset and then blundering away what was an easy half point in the rook and pawns endgame.

The second round will see Indian men up against Austria that also has Grandmaster opposition on all boards while the eves will take on Venezuela in what looks like another whitewash.

The Indian results (first round): Open: India bt El Salvador 3.5-0.5 (P Hari Krishna bt Jorge Ernesto Giron; Ricardo Ernesto Chavez lt to Vidit Gujarati; B Adhiban bt Daniel Arias; Carlos Burgos Figueroa drew with K Sasikiran).

Women: India bt New Zealand 4-0 (Helen Milligan lt to Koneru Humpy; Tania Sachdev bt Vyanla Punsalan Tania Sachdev; Jasmir Haomo Zhang lt to Eesha Karavade; Padmini Rout bt Qin Nicole Shu Yu).

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Indians off the blocks in style

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