Chess Olympiad Day 7 HIGHLIGHTS, scores: Shock loss for Humpy; Tania, Vaishali give India 1 dramatic win

Follow live updates, commentary and news from day 7 of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad in Mahabalipuram.

With five rounds left, all three Indian teams - on 10 points - have theoretical chances of being on the podium

With five rounds left, all three Indian teams - on 10 points - have theoretical chances of being on the podium | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Follow live updates, commentary and news from day 7 of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad in Mahabalipuram.

Results coming in from Mamallapuram

9:49pm: In the open section, in the battle between India 1 and India 3, the latter won 3-1. Arjun Erigaisi and S.L. Narayanan won on the lower boards, against Abhijeet Gupta and Abhimanyu Puranik, respectively. Pendyala Harikrishna and Vidit Gujrathi drew, with Surya Shekhar Ganguly and S.P. Sethuraman respectively. India 2 crushed Cuba 3.5-0.5, thanks to wins posted by D. Gukesh, Nihal Sarin and R. Praggnanandhaa. Only B. Adhiban drew. The top seed United States was held 2-2 by Armenia, seeded 12th.

9:42pm: India 2, however, went down to Greece 1.5-2.5 in a women’s match. Vantika Agrawal and Soumya Swaminathan were beaten by Stavroula Tsolakidou and Anastasia Avramidou, respectively. Divya Deshmukh, however, beat Haritomeni Markantonaki. Mary Ann Gomes drew with Ekaterini Pavlidou.

9:35pm: The Indian women’s team defeated Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5 to keep its sole lead. And it was a fine effort too, as its biggest star Koneru Humpy had lost on the top board, to Gunay Mammadzada. But R. Vaishali and Tania Sachdev posted wins over Govhar Beydullayeva and Ulviyya Fataliyeva. On the second board, Dronavalli Harika was held to a draw by Khanim Beydullayeva.

7:25pm: The Indian women suffered a setback in the match against Azerbaijan when Koneru Humpy was shocked by Gunay Mammadzada, who is rated some 131 Elo points below. It hasn’t been a good day for the India 2 women’s team, either. In the match against Greece, both Vantika Agrawal and Soumya Swaminathan lost, to Stavroula Tsolakidou and Anastasia Avramidou, respectively, on the top two boards. Divya Deshmukh,, however, won on the fourth board against Haritomeni Markantonaki. Greece thus is leading the match 2-1.

You can track the India boards here:

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO ON DAY 7

The lone rest day could not come at a better time for the home teams.

After a tough sixth round that left the top two Indian combinations winless for the first time in the Open section, Thursday’s break provided time to review, assess and plan ahead.

With five rounds left, all three teams - on 10 points - have theoretical chances of being on the podium. For those who believe that the past is sometimes a very fair indication of the future, an 11-round aggregate of 18 match-points or more usually ensures the gold medal. On some occasions, even 17 is good enough for lesser medals.

A decisive result in the India 1-India 3 face-off on Friday could hurt the medal prospects of the losing team. D. Gukesh-led India 2, seeded 11, is expected to end 32nd seed Cuba’s unbeaten run.

Gukesh, holding a career-high World No. 26th spot in live rankings, has so far won all six games by performing at a whopping 3329-level against his live rating of 2719. No wonder, India 2 has lived up to the build-up to occupy the third spot. India 1 is sixth, and India 3 ninth.

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Second-placed USA, the overwhelming favourite for gold, appears a tad casual. In fact, in the last three rounds, a draw against Uzbekistan and 2.5-1.5 victories over Israel and Iran have not done USA’s reputation any good since it managed to win just a game every day.

So far, all five members - Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Wesley So, Dominguez Perez Leinier and Sam Shankland - are losing rating points here. This slow and unimpressive first half could well wake up the giants in the coming days.

Against an in-form leader Armenia, USA could come out firing on more than one board on Friday. After all, in the Swiss league format, doing well in the last three rounds can never be over-emphasised.

Magnus Carlsen-led Norway has hardly played like a team seeded three. As a result of its ordinary showings, including two defeats and a draw, Norway will be out of Hall No. 1, which accommodates the top 27 matches. Against North Macedonia, a team with a starting rank of 61, Norway will play Match No. 28 in the make-shift Hall No. 2.

ALSO READ: Chess Olympiad 2022, Viswanathan Anand Exclusive Column: So many Indian teams, don’t know who to root for

Among the women, India 1 looks well on course to the podium. Wednesday’s resounding victory over Georgia has brightened India’s prospects of justifying its top seeding. After sixth-seed Azerbaijan on Friday, India 1 looks ready for second-seed Ukraine, fourth-seed Poland and an in-form Romania, seeded 20.

K. Humpy, D. Harika, R. Vaishali and Tania Sachdev look settled to perform their respective roles. Harika has been rock-solid, while the other three have struck timely.

India 2 and India 3, seeded 11 and 16, have not looked capable of bringing down higher-ranked teams. On Friday, armed with nine match-points, India 2 will be the favourite against 27th seed Greece, like India 3 against Switzerland, seeded 29.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CHESS OLYMPIAD

The  Chess Olympiad is being held in India for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 1927 with the honour coming to Chennai, considered the chess capital of the country. This is also the first time in 30 years that the Olympiad is coming to Asia.

If you’ve missed the Olympiad hype train, we have you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about the biggest event in the game in brief:

  • ⦿ The event will see the highest number of countries participating in an Olympiad
  • ⦿ Nearly 350 teams in the Open and women’s sections from 187 countries will be in fray. Of these, 188 teams are in the Open section and 162 in the women’s.
  • ⦿ Previously, the Batumi Olympiad in 2018 had set the record with 184 and 150 teams in the Open and women’s sections, respectively, from 179 countries. 
  • ⦿ India’s 30-member squad will be their biggest squad ever. 
  • ⦿ Given Russia and China’s non-participation, India Team A is seeded second while the USA tops the ranking list.
WHERE TO WATCH THE 44TH FIDE CHESS OLYMPIAD

Live streaming of the Chess Olympiad will be available on the official YouTube channel of FIDE Chess Olympiad. The event will be telecast live on the Doordarshan TV channel in India. You can follow the boards and all the analysis from matches on each day on Sportstar too.

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