World rapid champion Viswanathan Anand put it past Markus Ragger in a brilliant positional game as the Indian men’s team cruised to a 3.5-0.5 victory over Austria in the second round of the 43rd Chess Olympiad here. Back to the Olympiad after a gap of 12 years, Anand was precise in calculation and brilliant in judgement giving away nothing to Ragger who was all at sea defending a difficult position out of the opening on Tuesday evening.
P Harikrishna, on the second board, benefitted from a late blunder by Valentin Dragnev after Vidit Gujrathi ensured an Indian lead with a fluent victory over Andreas Diermair. On the fourth board, B Adhiban was held to a draw by Peter Schreiner. With their second 3.5-0.5 victory, the Indian men remain in joint lead on four points with 40 other teams and will next take on Canada.
The Indian women scored a 4-0 victory defeating Venezuela on all four boards. On the top board, Grandmaster D Harika was stretched but not hassled by Sarai Carolina Sachez Castillo.
On the second, Tania Sachdev played a clean game to outwit Amelia Hernandez Bonilla. Eesha Karavade was in her elements against Tairu Manuela Rovira Contreras and national champion Padmini Rout defeated Corals Patino Garcia to complete the whitewash. With 33 teams leading in this section, the Indian women will be next facing Serbia that might pose a better challenge.
The second day in the biggest chess event was again not devoid of upsets and top seeded Russia became the first major casualty in the women’s section losing to Uzbekistan by a narrow 1.5-2.5 margin. The Uzbek women did well to hold the first three boards and then pulled the plug on the last board as higher rated Russian Natalija Pogonina was outdone by Nodira Nadirjanova.
Anand played the Italian opening that has been finding a lot of favour in top level chess these days. Banking upon an idea played by Grandmaster S P Sethuraman in December last year, Anand found the going easy in a strategic battle when Ragger went wrong in his planning. With his minor pieces better than his opponent’s, Anand made a foray on the queenside and despite swapping of pieces at regular intervals the advantage for him remained intact. Ragger resigned on the 47th move when he faced loss of a pawn.
“He probably could have resisted better,” Anand said after the game citing some important moments where black might have equalized with accurate moves.
Vidit Gujrathi played the Ruy Lopez and Diermair simply fell prey to a simple tactic resulting in serious material deficit while Harikrishna kept on pushing for more in an equal endgame and was duly rewarded.
Among the Indian women, Harika replaced Humpy on the top board and outplayed her opponent in her trademark style. Eesha Karavade had to do little as her opponent made many positional errors right from the beginning while Padmini Rout also faced little resistance. After a rather topsy-turvy opening game, Tania Sachdev also found her form and squeezed out a fine victory thanks to some wily manoeuvres.
Indian results: Open: India (4) beat Austria (2) 3.5-0.5 (Viswanathan Anand beat Markus Ragger; Valentin Dragnev lost to P. Hari Krishna; Vidit Gujarati beat Andreas Diermair; Peter Schreiner drew with B. Adhiban).
Women: India (4) beat Venezuela (2) 4-0 (D. Harika beat Sarai Carolina Sachez Castillo; Amelia Hernandez Bonilla lost to Tania Sachdev; Eesha Karavade beat Tairu Manuela Rovira Contreras; Corals Patino Garcia lost to Padmini Rout).