Indian eves tamed by China, Men hold England

Istanbul (Turkey): The Indian women`s team met their nemesis in the Chinese as they lost by a huge 0.5-3.5 margin but the men held higher seeds England to a draw in the fifth round of the 40th Chess Olympiad here.

It turned out to be a tough day for Indian girls against top seed China as only D Harika could salvage a creditable draw with women`s world champion Yifan Hou on the top board.

Eesha Karavade had her chances but went down to Zhao Xue on the second board and Tania Sachdev was outplayed by Ju Wenjun on the third board. On the last board, Mary Ann Gomes put up some resistance but in the end Qian Huang of China ensured the big victory.

The Indian men, in contrast, held their own and in fact had another chance to upstage a higher seed following a mix-up against USA in the previous round.

There was not much excitement in this encounter as K Sasikiran and P Harikrishna drew comfortably on the top two boards while Abhijeet Gupta also had no troubles whatsoever in keeping his fortress together with black pieces against Nicolas Pert on the last board.

Parimarjan Negi got some real winning chances in the middle game against his former coach Nigel Short but that too fizzled out to a draw as the game reached a level rook and pawns endgame leaving the match to qualify as an all-drawn encounter.

 At the top of the tables in the open section, Highest rated player in the Olympiad and world number two Levon Aronian gave Armenia a head-start defeating an off-form Vassily Ivanchuk in the match against Ukraine.

While the other three games ended in a draw, Aronian`s win was enough to ensure a minimal 2.5-1.5 victory for former champions Armenia.

Top seeded Russian men now match Armenia on a maximum 10 match points after beating Hungary 2.5-1.5. Alexander Grischuk scored the crucial victory for the Russians.

With Armenia and Russia in front, Croatia and Azerbaijan are on the heels of the leader with nine match points while Indian men remain in the joint fifth spot on eight points.

In the women`s section, defending champion Russia took the sole lead with a perfect 10 defeating France on the top board. The Indian women`s team is now in desperate need of some victories on seven points.

Grandmaster D Harika was the only inspiration for the Indian girls in the match against China. Yifan surprisingly went for a safe Four Knights opening as white and regular exchanges led to a level rook and pawns endgame where the draw was agreed to after 37 moves.

Eesha Karavade misplayed the middle game as white out of a Nimzo Indian defense and went down in 38 moves while Tania Sachdev lost five moves earlier after getting in to a much worse position in the opening against Ju Wenjun.

Mary Ann Gomes, meanwhile, held her position together a long time but an error on the 35th move cost her dearly as Huang took control and won in 51 moves.