P. Harikrishna’s sensational victory over Sergey Karjakin was the highlight of India’s dramatic 2-2 draw with top seed Russia in the 10th and penultimate round of the Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Monday.

Karjakin, who challenges Magnus Carslen for the World title in November, was completely outplayed before Vladimir Kramnik helped Russia force a draw by beating B. Adhiban in the last game to finish in the tie.

The women’s team, too, punched above its weight and held second seed Ukraine 2-2 after Tania Sachdev upstaged Natalia Zhukova in 45 moves. D. Harika drew with Anna Muzychuk and, Padmini Rout proved equal to ex-World champion Mariya Muzychuk. Later, Soumya Swaminathan lost to former World champion Anna Ushenina.

Considering that each Indian on view faced higher rated rivals in both sections, the result should be seen as a huge psychological victory for the teams. However, India is almost out of the medal hunt after holding the fifth position, in both sections. In the final round, Indian men face Norway and the ladies play USA.

Against the cream of Russian chess, Indians did its reputation a world of good and earned the respect of their peers among the elite of world chess. Hari, rated 2752 as against World No. 9 Karjakin’s 2769, dominated the top board battle after the opening lines of Guico Piano. Karjakin overlooked a knight-fork that forced him to give up with rook for a knight.

Once Hari forced the exchange of rooks and later queens, the result was never in doubt. Karjakin resigned after 41 moves when Hari threatened to capture Karjakin’s advanced central pawn.

In the meantime, Vidit Gujrathi (rated 2669) played with white pieces and held Ian Nepomniachtchi (2740) in 37 moves while S. P.Sethuraman (2640), playing black, did not allow any liberties to Alexander Grischuk (2754) in 35 moves. However, India’s 2-1 lead soon stood nullified as Kramnik (2808) ended the resistance of Adhiban (2671) on the second board.

The results (10th round):

Open: India (15) drew with Russia (16) 2-2 (P. Hari Krishna bt Sergey Karjakin; B. Adhiban lost to Vladimir Kramnik; Vidit Gujrathi drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi; S. P. Sethuraman drew with Alexander Grischuk); Georgia (14) lost to USA (18); Czech Republic (14) lost to Ukraine (18) 1-3; England (15) bt Azerbaijan 1 (13) 2.5-1.5; Latvia (13) lost to Canada (15) 1-3; Norway (15) bt Iran (13) 3.5-0.5.

Women: India (15) drew with Ukraine (15) 2-2 (D. Harika drew with Anna Muzychuk; Padmini Rout drew with Mariya Muzychuk; Tania Sachdev bt Natalia Zhukova; Soumya Swaminathan lost to Anna Ushenina); Poland (15) lost to China (18) 1.5-2.5; Russia (16) bt Georgia (13) 2.5-1.5; Azerbaijan 1 (14) bt Colombia (11) 3-1; Mongolia (14) drew with USA (15) 2-2; France (13) lost to Hungary (15) 1.5-2.5; Bulgaria (15) bt Germany (13) 2.5-1.5; Lithuania (13) drew with Israel (14) 2-2.