The Indian men came up with their third victory on the trot defeating Qatar 3-1 while the women humbled Holland 3.5-0.5 in the seventh round of 41st Chess Olympiad on Sunday.
S P Sethuraman and Krishnan Sasikiran scored important victories for India on the second and third board accounting for Mohammad Al-Sayed and Zhu Chen respectively while Parimarjan Negi was held to a draw by Mohammad Al-Modiahki on the top board. In the fourth board B Adhiban also played a draw with Nezad Husein Azaz.
The victory, coming at an important juncture, took the Indian men to joint sixth spot in current standings and are now within striking distance of what was considered an impossible task — a podium finish.
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That said, they have the biggest hurdle to tackle in the next round when they meet three times winner and defending champion Armenia.
Meanwhile at the top of the tables, Azerbaijan defeated Cuba by 2.5-1.5 margin to emerge as the sole leader on 13 match points out of a possible 14. The Azeri victory was made possible by Gadir Guseinov and Teimour Radjabov who won on board second and fourth.
China, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania are on the heels of the leader on 12 points apiece while the Indians are next in line with eight others.
In the shocker of the day, the top seed Russia lost to Czech Republic after losing on the top two boards. In another big upset, Arkaditsch Naiditsch was the architect of a German victory after defeating world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
After some indifferent matches, the Indian girls rose back to form and handed the Netherlands a crushing victory. Tania Sachdev came back strongly after three off-days to beat Anne Haast on the second board while Bianca Muhren proved no match for Mary Ann Gomes. In the other Indian games, D Harika was held to a draw by Peng Zhaoqin on the top board while Padmini Rout continued with her dream run and outplayed Tea Lanchava.
The Russian women defeated China in what was the most awaited clash of the women’s section. Russia’s new import, Kateryna Lahno (formerly from Ukraine) led from the front to beat World women’s champion Yifan Hou on the top board and the Chinese eves did not recover thereafter.
With Russia on 14 points in this section, China, Hungary and Poland are now at a two points distance with 12 points each. The Indian girls stand joint12th on 10 points and meet Indonesia in the next round.
Scores: (MEN) Qatar (9) lost to India (11) 1-3 (Mohammad Al-Modiahki drew with Parimarjan Negi; Mohammad Al-Sayed lost to S.P. Sethuraman; Zhu Chen lost to K. Sasikiran; Husein Aziz Nezad drew with B.Adhiban)