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Heavy defeats for India

Bled (Slovenia): On an utterly forgettable day for India, both menís and womenís teams suffered comprehensive losses at the hands of Lithuania and Georgia, respectively, in the fifth round of the 35th Chess Olympiad.

A 0-3 spanking by former champions Georgia saw Indian women slip to joint 23rd position while the menís 1-3 loss to Lithuania meant they fell way behind in the standing list to be placed on joint 39th position.

Springing a major surprise, Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated overnight joint leaders Poland 3-1 and shot into sole lead in the menís section with 15.5 points ahead of holders Russia and Armenia.

In the womenís section, Georgia emerged the leaders on 12 points followed by United States on 11.5.

WGM S. Vijayalakshmi suffered her first loss in the meet, going down to Nana Iosliani, former world championship finalist, on the top board.

Vijayalakshmi, a silver medallist on top board in the last edition in Istanbul, had a nagging moment against Iosliani, who played white. The Indian WGMís hopes slowly diminished in the middle game and she eventually succumbed to time pressure.

International Woman Master Aarthie Ramaswamy went for an erroneous plan in the middle game and was methodically punished by WGM Nino Khurtsidze.

Aarthie played with white pieces and faced the Sicilian defence. After equalising, Nino went for complications and caught her opponent off guard.

On the third board, Swati Ghate failed to put up a desirable show against Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant and lost a keenly contested game.

On the other hand, the biggest setback for the Indian menís team was Grandmaster K. Sasikiranís loss against Eduardas Rozentalis with white pieces.

Playing after a dayís rest, Sasikiran tried too hard in a slightly better position and had to pay heavy price. The middle game hung in balance and in fact it was Rozentalis who made the first mistake.

However, Sasikiran failed to capitalise it and went for a complicated exchange sacrifice to bow down after 75 moves.

ďI was placed worse and he had the advantage but I was lucky to turn the tables. The exchange sacrifice was perhaps premature,Ē Rozentalis said after the game.

This was Sasikiranís second straight loss with white pieces after his defeat to Kasparov in the third round.

On the second board, double GM-norm holder Surya Sekhar Ganguly gave his team half a point with a draw against Sarunas Sulskis, who won the last Goodricke International Open in Surya Sekharís home city of Calcutta.

Playing the Arkhengelsk variation of the Ruy Lopez, Surya Sekhar managed to wriggle out of opening easily with equality but lost a pawn in the ensuing rook and pawns endgame. But the game was always within the boundaries of a draw that was agreed to after 60 moves.

Playing white, Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte drew with Vidmantas Malisauskas on the third board. It was a Sicilian defence that gave Abhijit a semblance of an advantage. But Malisauskas held on to his own determinedly and earned a truce after 24 moves.

IM R.B. Ramesh was outplayed in just 30 moves by Aloyzas Kveinys, playing white.

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