| Surya : In good nick
Bled (Slovenia): Having fared reasonably well in the 35th Chess Olympiad so far, the Indian men find themselves within striking distance of a medal ahead of the final round.
They are joint eighth with 20.5 points out of a possible 32 so far and just three good wins and no losses in the remaining six rounds would ensure them a medal.
The Indians are readying themselves for battle against the Czech Republic in the ninth round starting later on Monday night after Sunday’s rest day.
Russia, with 24 points, have been outstanding. They look in menacing form under the leadership of Garry Kasparov who has scored a 5.5/6 on the top board. Kasparov’s rating performance so far is 3002, the highest in the tournament.
Hungary are 1.5 points adrift of the leaders and the next round will see whether the Russian supremacy is tested.
In the women’s section, Georgia, with a two-point lead over the US, are well placed to regain the crown they lost to China in 1998.
The Indian team, joint 13th with 14.5 points, have their work cut out in the remaining rounds. Double GM-norm holder Surya Shekhar Ganguly, with 4.5 points from the six games, is on a song.
Ganguly’s victory over higher rated Larry Christiansen of the US in the previous round was especially memorable. The young Indian was merciless in crushing his senior opponent and gave his team a 3-1 victory. Krishnan Sasikiran is holding the top board quite well. The loss against Kasparov in the third round had its impact as Sasikiran lost his next game against Lithuania’s Rozentalis but since then he has been in top form.
He was in his elements outplaying Gregory Kaidanov of the US in the previous game and has taken his personal tally to 4 points out of six.
Harikrishna has been solid on the second board while Abhijit Kunte has done his bit on the fourth.
The two reserves, IM R.B. Ramesh and Pravin Thipsay have also shown good form except when once Thipsay misplayed a won endgame.
Some missed chances and some brilliant victories has been the story of the Indian women so far and Woman Grandmaster Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi will have to do something special in the remaining six games if the team has to get anywhere near a medal.
Points after Round VIII
Men: 1. Russia (24) 2. Hungary (22.5) 3. China (21.5) 4. Georgia (21.5) 5. Slovakia (21) 6. Czech republic (21) 7. Bosnia-Herzegovina (21) 8. Poland (20.5), The Netherlands (20.5), India (20.5) 9. Germany (20.5) 10. Belarus (20) 11. Armenia (20) 12. Azerbaijan (20) 13. England (20)
Women: 1. Georgia (19) 2. United States (17) 3. Russia (16.5) 4. China (16.5) 5. Romania (16) 6. Vietnam (16) 7. Poland (15.5) 8. Bulgaria (15.5) 9. Germany (15) 10. Czech Republic (15) 11. Hungary (15) 12. Ukraine (15) 13. India (14.5) 14. France (14.5) 15. Yugoslavia (14.5).