Chennai, Sep 9 (IANS) The Indian men’s chess team suffered their first defeat — by a comprehensive 3.5-0.5 margin — against a much stronger team from the United States in the seventh round of the World Chess Olympiad being held in Baku, Azerbaijan on Friday.
With this, the record unbeaten run enjoyed by the Indian men’s team came to an abrupt end.
The Indians were up against a formidable opposition that had three top World ranked players.
On the top board, World No.15 Indian Grand Master (GM) P.Harikrishna (ELO rating 2,752) opened the game with the traditional Ruy Lopez against World No.3 Fabiano Caruana (2,808).
In the 28th move, Caruana took a white pawn with his queen mounting an attack on Harikrishna’s King and in the process sacrificed his bishop.
Caruana had his pawn well entrenched in the d3 square supported by a pawn on c4. The Indian’s pieces were focussed on preventing that pawn’s further progress.
On move 35, Harikrishna decided to simplify matters by going in for an exchange of Queens. Ten moves later, both players agreed to split the point.
Playing black against World No.6 GM Hikaru Nakamura (2,789) India’s GM B.Adhiban (2,671) faced the English opening. The game progressed evenly with Nakamura gaining slight edge and the Indian equalising the same.
However Adhiban’s position slowly worsened and on the 53rd move he conceded defeat as Nakamura had three pawn advantage of which two were connected passers.
On the third board, GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi’s (2,669) unbeaten record was spoilt by World No.7 Wesley So (2,782). The American playing with white pieces outclassed Gujrathi in 41 moves.
The fourth board saw GM S.P.Sethuraman (2,640) and Samuel L Shankland (2,679) in a marathon battle with the former conceding the point after his 75th move blundering his queen.
The Indian eves suffered a defeat against Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5 points.
On the top board World No.5 India’s Harika Dronavalli drew her game against her Azerbaijan rival on the top board.
India’s International Master Tania Sachdev suffered her third consecutive defeat thereby putting a question on the strategy of fielding her on Friday after two defeats.
On the second board International Master (IM) Padmini Rout was humbled in 59 moves.
The third board saw IM Tania Sachdev suffered here third consecutive defeat thereby making one wonder the strategy of playing her on Friday after two defeats.
It was Women’s Grand Master (WGM) Soumya Swaminathan who saved India from a humiliating defeat on the day. On the last board, Swaminathan defeated her Azerbaijan rival in 63 moves.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)