Chess Olympiad: Gold for US, India 4th in open and 5th in women section

Chennai, Sep 13 (IANS) The United States won the gold medal on a better median count over Ukraine while Russia won bronze at the 2016 World Chess Olympiad open category at Baku, Azerbaijan, on Tuesday.

The ninth seeded Indian open team secured a credible fourth position while the fifth seeded Indian eves stood fifth.

The gold medal in the women’s category went to China, Poland claimed silver while the bronze went to Ukraine.

The curtains came down on the Chess Olympiad on Tuesday after a gruelling 11 rounds.

On the final round in the open section America beat Canada while Ukraine and Russia humbled Slovenia and Italy, respectively.

For India it was a do or die round as it had an outside chance to figure in the medal list subject to two conditions.

First, India had to win their match against Norway while Russia had to lose against Italy. Both didn’t happen as India drew with Norway and Russia won against Italy.

India threw away even its outside chance early in the match when Grandmaster (GM) S.P. Sethuraman turned adventurous on the 16th move, only to give up his bishop for a pawn with a hope of equalising the piece position a couple of moves later.

Sethuraman’s opponent saw through the move early enough to retain the piece advantage and forced the Indian to resign.

It was a costly loss for India as they had to win the match to stay in contention for a chance to win the bronze medal.

Expecting wins from other Indian players was a tall task at this juncture.

However the day was saved for the Indian team by Grandmaster Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, who won against Grandmaster Aryan Tari in 45 moves.

Playing with white pieces, Gujrathi castled on the queen’s side while Tari had castled on his king’s side earlier.

Gradually Gujrathi’s board position improved as the play was mostly focused on the board’s centre with the Indian going in for exchange of queens. After that some precise play by Gujrathi ensured the win.

On the top board, World No.15 and Indian Grandmaster P.Harikrishna took on No.1 by ranking and World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.

The game progressed evenly in the Giuoco Piano variation with both the players not giving any space to the other and finally agreed to sign the peace treaty at the end of the 47th move.

On the third board, Indian Grandmaster B. Adhiban drew with Jon Ludvig Hammer in 43 moves.

“India’s performance in the open category was really great. It had played against all the strong teams including the medal winners. It had upset Azerbaijan, England and drew with Russia,” a chess coach told IANS, preferring anonymity.

The Indian eves too lost their chances to make it to the medal list with its draw against America.

International Master (IM) Padmini Rout who had a winning position lost her rook for a knight and the game couple of moves later against IM Nazi Paikidze.

On the top board, World No.5 Indian GM Harika Dronavalli drew her game against GM Irina Krush.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

–IANS

vj/sam/bg

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