Nations Cup: Adhiban falters as China overcomes India

India fought hard but could not deny top seed China a 2.5-1.5 victory in the ninth round of the FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup.

On a day when Europe outwitted USA 2.5-1.5 and brightened its prospects of joining China in Sunday’s Superfinals and Rest of the World held Russia 2-2, Adhiban’s third loss in four games hurt India.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

India fought hard but could not deny top seed China a 2.5-1.5 victory in the ninth round of the FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup on Saturday.

On a day when Europe outwitted USA 2.5-1.5 and brightened its prospects of joining China in Sunday’s Superfinals and Rest of the World held Russia 2-2, Adhiban’s third loss in four games hurt India. For India, Viswanathan Anand and K. Humpy took a drop while China rested Ding Liren, but chose field top-ranked woman Hou Yifan.

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Vidit drew with Wang Hao in just 28 moves in the first game to end on this day. Though China was better placed on all other boards, D. Harika showed better time-management and defended well against Hou Yifan. Adhiban, playing white, lost to Yu Yangyi and P. Harikrishna held Wei Yi.

Late on Friday, India came close to upstaging Europe before Hari’s loss made it 2-2. After Anand proved equal to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Humpy could not optimise her advantage and chose to draw following perpetual checks.

Finally, a struggling Vidit had his moment. After losing four out of five games, Vidit did his confidence a world of good by beating Levon Aronian.

Leading 2-1, India had reasons to hope for a win with Hari looking good to hold Jan-Krzysztof Duda. But Hari faltered in his bid to extend his advantage and Duda’s victory gave Europe an important match-point.

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The results:

Ninth round: India lost to China 1.5-2.5 (Vidit Gujrathi drew with Wang Hao; P. Harikrishna drew with Wei Yi; B. Adhiban lost to Yu Yangyi; D. Harika drew with Hou Yifan); Europe bt USA 2.5-1.5; Russia drew with Rest of the World 2-2.

Eighth round: Europe drew with India 2-2 (Maxime Vachier-Lagrave drew with Viswanathan Anand; Levon Aronian lost to Vidit Gujrathi; Jan-Krzysztof Duda bt P. Harikrishna; Anna Muzychuk drew with K. Humpy); China bt Russia 2.5-1.5; USA bt Rest of the World 3-1.

Standings (after nine rounds): 1. China (17 match-points), 2. Europe (12), 3. USA (11), 4. Russia (6), 5. India (5), 6. Rest of the World (3).

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