Chess Olympiad: Indian men face Russia, women meet USA

The Indian women have scored 16.5 points – most by any team – from 20 games so far. Tania Sachdev has won all four games while K. Humpy and Harika have contributed 3.5 points each. Going purely by form and quality of play, India begins as the favourite to end USA’s winning run.

Barring the narrow loss to defending champion and top seed USA, Viswanathan Anand-led Indian men have looked in great form.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

India has reasons to be fairly pleased with its showing so far in the Chess Olympiad that has seen a quite a few medal-contenders suffer setbacks in the first five rounds here.

Barring the narrow loss to defending champion and top seed USA, Viswanathan Anand-led Indian men have looked in great form. What more, the women’s team has done a shade better by sharing the second spot, behind USA.

Russia has already suffered a loss in both sections while the men from USA and China have failed to maintain all win-sequence. Among the giant-killers, Poland heads the list having beaten Russia and France in succession.

When the action resumes on Sunday, after a day’s rest, Indian men face second seed Russia while the fifth seeded women take on 10th seed USA.

The results of these sixth round face-offs could well dictate India’s fortunes in the 11-round competition.

Riding on the comprehensive 3.5-0.5 victories posted on Friday, when the Indian men beat Paraguay and the women brushed aside Argentina, the teams appear in the right form leading to the big clashes on Sunday.

Given the format of the Swiss League, where the contending teams that do well in the last three rounds usually finish among the medals, it could well be a blessing in disguise for the Indian men’s team that it faces Russia early in the competition. Russia is clearly struggling to play to its reputation.

The Indian women have scored 16.5 points – most by any team – from 20 games so far. Tania Sachdev has won all four games while K. Humpy and Harika have contributed 3.5 points each. Going purely by form and quality of play, India begins as the favourite to end USA’s winning run.

Leading sixth-round pairings:

Open: Russia (8) vs India (8); Azerbaijan (10) vs Czech Republic (10); Poland (10) vs Ukraine (10); Israel (9) vs Germany (9); Bosnia & Herzegovina (8) vs USA (9); Iran (8) vs China (8).

Women:  India (9) vs USA (10); Ukraine (9) vs China (9); Georgia 1 (9) vs Georgia 2 (9); Russia (8) vs Armenia (9); Azerbaijan (8) vs Latvia (8); Italy (8) vs Cuba (8).