Bled (Slovenia): The Indian men went down 1-3 to defending champions Russia, while the women fought their way to a 1.5-1.5 stalemate in the third round of the 35th chess Olympiad.
After two facile victories, the Indian men ran into the world’s strongest team and could salvage just one point as P. Harikrishna and Abhijit Kunte drew their matches.
The emphatic triumph catapulted Russia to the top of standings along with Cuba, Georgia and Poland (10 points each), and kept them on course for a sixth consecutive title. India have eight points.
Leading the women’s field are China, the US and Yugoslavia (7.5 each). The Indians have 6 points.
GM Krishnan Sasikiran, who faced the mighty Garri Kasparov on the top board, was outplayed by the Russian despite having the advantage of white pieces.
Sasikiran was up against a Slav Chelyabinsk that is steadily becoming Kasparov’s favourite weapon against the queen pawn players. Sasikiran went for a highly complicated variation that did not click.
Kasparov got the dynamic balance he was looking in the early middlegame and initiated attack against a backward queen pawn of Sasikiran. The Indian missed out a forced tactical sequence of moves that cost him a pawn.
Kasparov was merciless thereafter as he thwarted all counter-play attempts of Sasikiran in copybook fashion. The game lasted 38 moves.
On the second board, Harikrishna held Alexander Morozevich to a draw with black pieces. Having beaten Morozevich just a fortnight back during the World Cup in Hyderabad, the 16-year-old Indian was confidence personified as he tackled the complexities of a Sicilian Rossolimo attack in style.
Morozevich’s plans of confusing Harikrishna did not materialise and the game hung in balance right till the end.
The pieces got exchanged at regular intervals after Morozevich went for a breakthrough on the queenside with a temporary pawn sacrifice.
On the third board, Surya Sekhar Ganguly went down fighting to Peter Svidler.
Despite playing with white, Surya had to sweat it out in the established theoretical manoeuvres of a Sicilian Richer Rauzer attack wherein Svidler appeared well armed.
The middlegame was fiercely fought as Surya launched an attack on the kingside and faced a similar assault on the other flank.
The Russian was the first to strike after Surya made an erroneous capture and found himself reeling under potentially dangerous threats.
Once he had gained the upper hand, Svidler made no mistakes and finished off the issue in 39 moves.
The other draw came on the fourth board as gm Kunte held Sergei Rublevski to a creditable draw from a difficult situation with black pieces.
The Russian opened with Scotch game and gained a miniscule advantage out of the opening.
In the middlegame, Kunte had to part with a pawn to restrict the pressure and after some routine exchanges the endgame witnessed Kunte struggling.
The resourceful Kunte manoeuvred his knight near to the centre of the board and achieved sufficient counterplay.
The game petered out to a draw after 64 moves with Kunte heaving a sigh of relief. “I knew once my knight went to the centre I was back in the game, the position is level after that”, said Kunte.
In the women’s encounter, IWM Aarthie Ramaswamy won her game on the third board against Nepeina-Leconte Maria to equalise for India after meenakshi had lost to IWM Sebaq Marie.
Subbaraman Vijaylakshmi had earlier played a draw against Almira Akripchenko-Lautier.
The players settled for the draw after 50 moves.
Meenakshi squandered a good opening to lose to Marie before Aarthie won the last encounter.
Playing with black pieces, Aarthie opened with the Sicilian defence and capitalised on an oversight by her opponent to win a piece.
The rest was easy for her as she pocketed the full point.
IMPORTANT ROUND 3 RESULTS
Men: Cuba (10) bt Bulgaria (9) 2.5-1.5; India (8) lost to Russia (10) 1-3; Hungary (9) drew Slovakia (9) 2-2; Poland (10) bt Croatia (8) 3-1; Greece (8) lost to Georgia (10) 1-3; Kazakhstan (9.5) bt United States (8) 2.5-1.5.Women: China (7.5) bt Russia (7) 2-1; Georgia (6.5) lost to United States (7.5) 1-2; Israel (6) lost to Poland (8) 0.5-2.5; Yugoslavia (7.5) bt Ecuador (6) 2.5-0.5; France (6) drew India (6) 1.5-1.5.