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Silver for Viji as Indians slip

Bled (Slovenia): An individual silver medal for S. Vijayalakshmi was all that the Indians had to show for their efforts at the 35th Chess Olympiad which concluded Sunday as both the men’s and women’s teams performed below expectations.

WGM Vijayalakshmi drew her final round game against Masha Klinova of Israel. She tallied 9.5 points from 14 games for the second best performance on the top board. Hoang Thanh Trang of Vietnam got the gold medal.

Vijayalakshmi, 23, had also won a silver at the previous edition of the meet in Istanbul in 2000.

It was erroneously reported Monday, by PTI, that Vijayalakshmi had clinched the bronze.

There was little to cheer for India apart from that as the men’s and women’s teams lost their final matches. The men lost 1.5-2.5 to Iceland to finish 29th with 31 points. They were placed eighth in the previous edition of the meet. The women finished 19th with 23.5 points after losing 1-2 against Israel.

Russia won the gold in the men’s section with 38.5 points. Hungary and Armenia took the second and third spot, respectively. China won the women’s gold with 29.5 points. Russia got the silver and Poland bronze.

The Indian men fared poorly on the final day. The in-form Surya Sekhar Ganguly, who collected his final GM norm from this event, lost to Helgi Gretarsson on Board 2 despite playing with white pieces.

GM Krishnan Sasikiran played well to beat GM Hannes Stefansson with black pieces. It was a consistent performance right till the end that helped Sasikiran convert a miniscule advantage into a full point.

On the third board, GM Abhijit Kunte drew with Helgi Olafsson. Playing the Queen’s Indian Defence with black pieces, Kunte was never under any real threat.

Double GM norm holder R.B. Ramesh lost to Throstur Thorhallsson on the fourth board. Ramesh did not get much with his white pieces against the French Defence and succumbed to some superior endgame play.

In the women’s section, the shocker came on the third board as Aarthie Ramaswamy lost to the lowly rated Irina Botwinnik. Vijayalakshmi’s younger sister Meenakshi drew with Angela Borsuk.

HOW INDIANS FARED

MEN — Krishnan Sasikiran 6/11; P. Harikrishna 3.5/10; Surya Sekhar Ganguly 7/11; Abhijit Kunte 5.5/9; Pravin Thipsay 3.5/5; R.B. Ramesh 5.5/10. WOMEN — S. Vijayalakshmi 9.5/13; S. Meenakshi 4.5/8; Aarthie Ramaswamy 5/12; Swati Ghate 4.5/9.

(PTI)

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