The dice rolled in favour of the host in the women’s section with India 1 moving within the gold medal-grabbing distance in the Chess Olympiad.
In the 10th and penultimate round on Monday, the trio of K. Humpy, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni scored thumping victories to set up a resounding 3.5-0.5 over Kazakhstan, one of the three fellow-overnight leaders.
What gave India 1 a one-point lead at 17 points was the 2-2 deadlock involving the other two overnight leaders Georgia and Poland.
As things stand, a final-round victory over the US women will ensure the historic gold medal. In the Open section, India 1 also plays USA while India 2 takes on Germany.
The joy could have stood doubled if in-form D. Gukesh not slipped from a clearly better position to a heart-breaking loss against rising superstar Nodirbek Abdusattorov in the Open section. Gukesh’s defeat following a late one-move blunder in time-pressure nullified the lead provided by R. Praggnanandhaa and the match ended 2-2. Before Uzbekistan escaped with a draw to reach 17 points, Armenia reached the tally with a 3-1 drubbing of Azerbaijan.
With India 2 missing a golden opportunity to displace Uzbekistan from the pedestal, it now has the company of USA, India 1, Armenia at 16 points for a share of the third spot.
On a day when Magnus Carlsen drew and Norway (12) lost 1.5-2.5 to Moldova for its third loss, India 1 stayed in medal contention with a 2.5-1.5 victory over formidable Iran. P. Harikrishna’s loss on the top board was more than compensated by Vidit Gujrathi’s first victory, combined with S. L. Narayanan’s late, match-deciding triumph.
Top standings (after 10 rounds):
Open: 1-2. Uzbekistan, Armenia (17 each), 3-5. India 2, India 1, USA (16 each), 6-11. Netherlands, Spain, England, Germany, Serbia and Moldova (15 each).
Women: 1. India 1 (17), 2-4. Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia (16 each), 6-10. India 2, USA, Kazakhstan, India 3 and Slovakia (15 each).
The results (10th round)
Open: India 2 (16) drew with Uzbekistan (17) 2-2 (D. Gukesh lost to Nodirbek Abdusattorov; Nihal Sarin drew with Nodirbek Yakubboev; R. Praggnanandhaa bt Javokhir Sindarov; B. Adhiban drew with Jakhongir Vakhidov).
Iran (15) lost to India 1 (16) 1.5-2.5 (Parham Maghsoodloo bt P. Harikrishna; M. Amin Tabatabaei lost to Vidit Gujrathi; Pouya Idani drew with Arjun Erigaisi; Bardiya Daneshvar lost to S. L. Narayanan).
India 3 (13) drew with Slovakia (13) 2-2 (Surya Shekhar Ganguly drew with Jergus Pechac; S. P. Sethuraman lost to Viktor Gazik; M. Karthikeyan drew with Juraj Druska; Abhimanyu Puranik bt Christopher Repka)
Azerbaijan (14) lost to Armenia (17) 1-3; USA (16) bt Turkey (14) 3-1; Serbia (15) drew with Netherlands (15) 2-2; Spain (13) v Czech Republics (13); Hungary (14) drew with Ukraine (14) 2-2; Germany (15) bt Israel (13) 3-1; England (15) bt Italy (13) 3-1; France (14) drew with Lithuania (14) 2-2; Norway (12) lost to Moldova (15) 1.5-2.5.
Women: India 1 (17) bt Kazakhstan (15) 3.5-1.5 (K. Humpy bt Zhansaya Abdumalik; R. Vaishali drew with Bibisara Assaubayeva; Tania Sachdev bt Xeniya Balabayeva; Bhakti Kulkarni bt Gulskhan Nakhbayeva).
Netherlands (13) lost to India 2 (15) 1-3 (Peng Zhaoqin bt Vantika Agrawal; Machteld van Foreest lost to Padmini Rout; Rosa Ratsma lost to Mary Ann Gomes; Tea Lanchava lost to Divya Deshmukh)
India 3 (15) bt Sweden (13) 3-1 (Eesha Karavade drew with Pia Cramling; P. V. Nandhidhaa bt Inna Agrest; Varshini Sahithi drew with Anna Cramling Bellon; Pratyusha Bodda bt Vikrotia Johansson).
Georgia (16) drew with Poland (16) 2-2; Germany (14) lost to Ukraine (16) 1.5-2.5; Armenia (14) lost to Azerbaijan (16) 0-4 USA (15) bt Indonesia (13) 3-1; Cuba (13) lost to Slovakia (15) 1.5-2.5; Mongolia (14) drew with Bulgaria (14) 2-2.