Indian men and women team kept their medal hopes alive after holding Russia in Open and Ukraine in Women section of the ongoing 42nd World Chess Olympiad at Baku, Azerbaijan.
With four super grandmasters in the lineup, top seed Russia started as clear favourite in the penultimate round but on top board Harikrishna proved the same wrong and outplayed World Championship challenger Sergey Karjakin while Vidit Gujarathi and Sethuraman S P held Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk to creditable draws. Playing with dark pieces on board two, B Adhiban fought hard against world number four Vladimir Kramnik but surrendered after 46 moves.
The Indian women team equally matched their men counterpart by holding second seed Ukraine. India was the underdog against Ukraine, which have two former world champions and four Grandmasters in their lineup. Harika Dronavalli drew her top board battle against Anna Muzychuk while Padmini held former world champion Mariya Muzychuk. Soumya Swaminathan’s lose against former world champion Anna Ushenina put the fate of the match in the shoulders of Tania Sachdev and she delivered what India needed by beating Natalia Zhukova to make it 2 – 2.
USA and Ukraine are at the pole position in Open section with 18 points after defeating Georgia and Czech Republic respectively in tenth round. Russia is in third position with 16 points while India along with England, Canada, Norway, Italy, Slovenia and Peru are at joint fourth position with 15 points. On tie break India are in fifth position and require some favourable results at top to finish at podium. In the final round tomorrow India will play against Norway.
In women section, China is leading the table with 18 points while Russia occupying the sole second spot with 16 points. India is at joint third position along with Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, USA and Bulgaria. On tie break Indian women are at fifth position and tomorrow pitted against USA.