Indian men prove equal to Russia, women held by USA

The top-seeded Russian women suffered a second loss, a 1-3 drubbing at the hands of 12th seed Armenia.

Dronavalli Harika (right) lost to Irina Krush. (file photo)   -  Getty Images

In keeping with the rising expectations, Viswanathan Anand-led India produced a flawless performance to hold second seed Russia 2-2 but the Indian women disappointed following their 2-2 draw with lower-rated overnight leader USA in the sixth round of the Chess Olympiad here on Sunday.

All the four boards in the India-Russia tie ended with honours even while K. Humpy and Tania Sachdev produced victories with white pieces. However, the duo’s effort stood undone following the surprise defeats of D. Harika and Eesha Karavade, to far lesser-rated rivals.

Azerbaijan and Poland, seeded four and 11, continued their winning run at the expense of Czech Republic and Ukraine, seeded 12 and six, to share the lead with 12 match-points. In fact, Poland caused a surprise for the third successive round, having beaten Russia and France on the way.

Among the ladies, top seed Russia suffered its second defeat, following a 1-3 drubbing at the hands of 12th seed Armenia.

Read: Anand leads India’s emphatic win over Paraguay

For India, Anand did not want to take any chances with black pieces and settled for a 20-move draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi. P. Hari Krishna gave no chance to Vladimir Kramnik and drew in 45 moves. Vidit Gujarati proved solid with black pieces against Nikita Vitiugov and
signed peace in 31 moves.

All this while, playing white, B. Adhiban looked better off than Dmitry Jakovenko but could not quite get any decisive advantage. After the 43 moves, the players were left with five pawns each. Five moves later, draw was formalised.

Unlike the equal battles involving Indian men, all the encounters in the India-USA clash proved decisive. Since India enjoyed rating superiority on every board, the eventual 2-2 result was a mild setback to its medal hunt.

Humpy, holding a slight edge over Anna Zatonskih, gained enormously when her rival blundered on the 30th move. Five moves later, Humpy was the winner, with an extra queen on the board.

Tania stretched her all-win sequence to five following her conquest of Tatev Abrahamyan in just 31 moves.

Following these victories, India awaited either Harika or Eesha to pull off a draw but that was not to be. The two Indian girls, playing black, had no defence to save their fast collapsing positions. Harika surrendered to Irina Krush in 57 moves before Yu Jennifer ended Eesha’s resistance in 55 moves.

Sixth round results

Open: Russia (9) drew with India (9) 2-2 (Ian Nepomniachtchi drew with Viswanathan Anand; Vladimir Kramnik drew with P. Hari Krishna; Nikita Vitiugov drew with Vidit Gujarati; Dmitry Jakovenko drew with B. Adhiban); Azerbaijan (12) bt Czech Republic (10) 3-1; Poland (12) bt
Ukraine (10) 2.5-1.5; Israel (10) drew with Germany (10) 2-2; Bosnia & Herzegovina (8) lost to USA (11) 0.5-1.5; Iran (8) lost to China (10) 1.5-2.5.

Women: India (10) drew with USA (11) 2-2 (K. Humpy bt Anna Zatonskih; D. Harika lost to Irina Krush; Tania Sachdev bt Tatev Abrahamyan; Eesha Karavade lost to Yu Jennifer); Ukraine (10) drew with China (10) 2-2; Georgia 1 (11) bt Georgia 2 (9) 2.5-1.5; Russia (8) lost to Armenia (11) 1-3; Azerbaijan (10) bt Latvia (8) 2.5-1.5; Italy (10) bt Cuba (8) 3-1.