Fortunes continue to fluctuate for Indians

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Bled, Slovenia:

Fortunes continued to fluctuate for Indian men and women teams as they lost the 10th round to England and Russia respectively in the 35th Chess Olympiad now underway here. Russia stretched its lead to a full point in the men's section with a convincing 3-1 victory over China. Hungary (27.5) maintained its sole second position after defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina by 2.5-1.5 margin while England and Germany share the third position with 26 points each. The Indian men were relegated to the joint 13th position with 24 points. In the women's section Georgia continued with their winning ways, putting it across Hungary 2-1 to lead the table by a 2.5-point margin. Defending champion China remained in the second position with 21.5 points while the United States and Russia maintained their third position on 20.5 points. The England team proved too superior for the Indians on the top boards and that turned out to be the deciding factor on the outcome of the match. On the top board, Grandmaster K Sasikiran failed to put up a resistance against Michael Adams. Playing black, Sasikiran opted for the Sicilian defence and had to withstand some fierce frontal attack from his opponent. Adams, ranked 2745, targeted Sasikiran's centre-right and did not give any respite to the young Indian in the complexities that ensued. Going for an counter-attack backfired for Sasikiran as he lost a few queen side pawns in the endgame. The other loser was GM Pentyala Harikrishna who lost his second successive game against Nigel Short in less than a month's time. Up against a Queen's Indian defence with white pieces, Harikrishna blundered in going for an all-out attack against the king with a knight sacrifice in the mid-board. The experienced Short showed no mercy and gobbled all the material on offer. He then made a smart move in sacrificing his queen before crushing the Indian's defences in a rook and minor piece ending. "Our top boards collapsed and Harikrishna is clearly lacking form," said Indian team coach Evegeny Vladimirov about the two losses. On his performance, a visibly pleased Short said, "Hari was new to my opening ideas and he should have played a quiet game. Instead he made a speculative sacrifice and got some chances but winning the queen was a mistake." The draw on the third board gave some respite to India as GM title aspirant Surya Shekar Ganguly continued with his brilliant run to hold higher rated GM Jonathan Speelman, the third best player in the English team. It was an irregular opening that gave Speelman semblance of advantage but as the game progressed Ganguly neutralized with some timely exchanges and even pressed for an advantage himself, leading the battle to a level rook and minor pieces endgame. The peace treaty was signed after 50 moves. R B Ramesh survived some scares against his king before finally getting the draw against GM Stuart Conquest on the fourth board. This game featured the Alekhine defence by Conquest, and after some routine exchanges the players arrived at a heavy pieces endgame wherein Ramesh had a few pawn weaknesses. However, with effective defence, Ramesh steered the game to a draw after 53 moves. The Indian women faced a lot of troubles in finiding the right moves against the Russians. Only Women Grandmaster S Vijayalakshmi provided some cheers in an otherwise lacklustre performance by defeating Ekaterina Kovalevskaya with white pieces. Vijayalakshmi's victory was all the more important for the team as it came after India was struggling 0-2. On the second board, S Meenakshi went for a premature attack against Svetlana Matveeva and had to pay a heavy price. In just 26 moved Matveema forced resignation with her counter attack in the centre. Aarthie Ramaswamy faced the heat against Tatiana Kosintseva and did not last long either. The Sicilian Sveshnikov had some exciting manoeuvres in the middle game but Aarthie blundered to fall into a double neck. (PTI)