Chess Olympiad: Women keep India afloat

The women's contingent comprising D. Harika, Tania Sachdev, Soumya Swaminathan and Padmini Rout kept India in contention of a medal at the Chess Olympiad even as the men's team went down to Ukraine.

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Tania Sachdev beat Netherlands's Anna-Maja Kazarian.   -  R. Ragu

Indian women kept the chances of a medal alive after beating the Netherlands 3-1 even as the men suffered a 1.5-2.5 defeat to overnight joint-leader Ukraine after S. P. Sethuraman’s dramatic loss in the ninth round of the Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday.

D. Harika, Tania Sachdev and Soumya Swaminathan won their games before Padmini Rout surrendered on the second board. In the penultimate round on Monday, the fifth-placed India plays second seed Ukraine and leader China (16 points) takes on second-placed Poland (15).

In the Open section, having slipped to the sixth place, India plays top seed Russia while leaders USA and Ukraine take on Georgia and Czech Republic, respectively,

What could have been a 2.5-1.5 victory for the Indian men turned out to be heartbreaking defeat, especially after Sethuraman gained the upper hand against Anton Korobov while the other three boards headed for a draw.

Even as B. Adhiban and Vidit Gujrathi drew with their higher-rated rivals, Sethuraman chose to not accept Korobov’s offer of rook for a bishop. This decision backfired as, thereafter, Korobov kept improving his position rapidly and seized the initiative. Even as Korobov was threatening to turn the tables on Sethuraman, Hari looked assured of a draw.

However, Sethuraman could not salvage his crumbling position and lost in 61 moves.

The results (Ninth round):

Women: India (14) beat Netherlands (12) 3-1 (D. Harika bt Peng Zhaoqin; Padmini Rout lost to Anne Haast; Tania Sachdev bt Anna-Maja Kazarian; Soumya Swaminathan bt Maaike Keetman); USA (14) lost to China (16) 1.5-2.5; Israel (13) lost to Poland (15) 0.5-3.5; Vietnam (12) lost to Russia (14) 1.5-2.5; Ukraine (14) bt Azerbaijan 1 (12) 3.5-0.5; Hungary (13) drew with Bulgaria (13) 2-2.

Open: Ukraine (16) beat India (14) 2.5-1.5 (Pavel Eljanov drew with P. Hari Krishna; Ruslan Ponomariov drew with B. Adhiban; Yuriy Kryvoruchko drew with Vidit Gujrathi; Anton Korobov bt S. P. Sethuraman); USA (16) bt Norway (13) 3-1; Azerbaijan 1 (13) lost to Russia (15) 1-3; Iran (13) drew with England (13) 2-2; Latvia (13) drew with Slovenia (13) 2-2; Netherlands (12) lost to Czech Republic (14) 1.5-2.5.

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