India slip to sixth spot at Olympiad

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Indian men lose to Ukraine by a minimal margin of 1.5-2.5 in a keenly contested encounter in the seventh round of the 36th Chess Olympiad.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Mallorca, Spain:

The Indian men succumbed to their first defeat against Ukraine going down by a minimal margin of 1.5-2.5 in a keenly contested encounter in the seventh round of the 36th Chess Olympiad at Gran Casino here. For India, World Rapid Champion Viswanathan Anand drew with Vassily Ivanchuk, Sasikrian held former World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov to a draw, P Harikrishna missed his winning chances before signing peace with Pavel Eljanov while Abhijit Kunte was humbled by World's youngest ever Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin. In the biggest sensational result of the Olympiad, ninth seed Bulgaria defeated top seed and defending champions Russia 2.5-1.5 to change the equations dramatically. As things stand now at the half-way stage in the biggest chess event, Ukraine moved to 21.5 points after their triumph over India and also stretched its lead to 2 points over nearest rivals Russia, Armenia and Bulgaria. Spain 'A', occupies the fifth spot solely on 19 points after beating Azerbaijan while India slipped to joint sixth spot on 18.5 points along with Poland. Next in line are Azerbaijan, United States and France who all have 18 points apiece. A few days back looking at the victories of Ivanchuk, Anand had said "Chucky looks unstoppable". Indeed the Ukrainian is playing the best chess of his career and his personal score so far is an astounding 6/7 here. In fact, before the game against Anand, Ivanchuk had a performance rating of over 3000 ELO points which is a dream for every chess player. Anand had come well-armed for this important match and for the first time Ivanchuk was in serious trouble in this Olympiad. Playing the white side of a Petroff defence, Anand went for established theoretical manoeuvres and it turned out that his preparation was more deeper than the Ukrainian. Playing quick and correct Anand had a tangible advantage in the middle game when suddenly Ivanchuk sank in to a deep thought. Working out a fine defensive plan Ivanchuk did not bother much about his clock and was down to last five minutes in the latter part of the middle game. However the position by then was under control and even though Anand won a pawn with precise technique the resulting rook and pawns endgame was just level. After 40 moves the players agreed to sign peace. (PTI)