Olympiad: Harika saves India the blushes against Italy

A rare defeat suffered by K. Sasikiran, the hero of India’s last two victories, resulted in the 1.5-2.5 verdict.

Indian women's chess team members Padmini Rout, Koneru Humpy, GM Jacob, Tania Sachdev, Eesha Karvade and Dronavalli Harika.   -  V.V. Subramanyam

India’s medal hopes in the Chess Olympiad ended after the men’s team lost to Armenia and the women drew with Italy in the ninth round at Batumi in Georgia on Wednesday.

A rare defeat suffered by K. Sasikiran, the hero of India’s last two victories, resulted in the 1.5-2.5 verdict. In the ladies section, the victory for D. Harika stood nullied with the defeat of Tania Sachdev while the other two boards were drawn. In fact, Harika looked in
trouble until her rival, went wrong with the exchange of queens. Thereafter, Harika went to weave a checkmating net.

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With two rounds to go, Indian men (13 match points) slipped to the 11th spot while the women (12) occupied the 14th place. Maintaining its sensational run, 11th seed Poland (16 match points) upstaged top seed USA 2.5-1.5 to lead the open section whereas China (16) headed the women section.

Overall, it turned out to be a very disappointing day for the Indians. Facing the eighth seed Armenia, the fifth seeded Indian men never came close to winning the match.

On the top board, Viswanathan Anand and Levon Aronian drew as expected and soon, P. Hari Krishna and Gabriel Sargissian also followed suit. B. Adhiban did not get advantage with white pieces on the third board.

Sasikiran, for once, ran in to rough weather. Haik Martirosyan gradually tightened his grip and Sasikiran’s defence fell apart. Faced with the Armenian’s ‘queening’ pawn, Sasikiran tried to stretch the battle with a series of checks but in the process, lost his rook and
soon resigned.

Ninth round results:

Open: India (13) lost to Armenia (15) 1.5-2.5 (Viswanathan Anand drew with Levon Aronian; P. Hari Krishna drew with Gabriel Sargissian; B. Adhiban drew with Hrant Milkumyan; K. Sasikiran lost to Haik Martirosyan); Poland (16) bt USA (15) 2.5-1.5; Azerbaijan (13) lost to China (15) 1.5-2.5; Germany (14) drew with France (14) 2-2; England (15) bt Norway (12) 3-1; Italy (12) lost to Russia (14) 1-3; Austria
(12) lost to Croatia (14) 1-3; Netherlands (13) bt Moldova (12) 3-1.

Women: Italy (12) drew with India (12) 2-2 (Olga Zimina drew with K. Humpy; Elena Sedina lost to D. Harika; Marina Brunello bt Tania Sachdev; Daniela Movileanu drew with Padmini Rout); Kazakhstan (13) lost to China (16) 1-3; Azerbaijan (14) drew with Ukraine (15) 2-2; USA (15) bt Hungary (13) 2.5-1.5; Armenia (15) bt Iran (12) 3-1; Russia (14) bt Romania (12) 3-1; Mongolia (12) lost to Georgia 1 (14) 1-3.

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