Zaozhuang (China): Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta scored a crucial win over Lou Yiping as India secured a 2-2 draw against China-2 in the sixth round of the Asian Nations Chess Cup.
Top rated Krishnan Sasikiran struggled for form and lost to Zhao Jianchao on the top board and the situation was looking grim for the Indians but Gupta drew a rabbit out of hat and swindled Yiping out of the blue.
Expectedly, the second and third board games were drawn by P Harikrishna and Parimarjan Negi, giving the team a 2-2 draw from what looked like a certain defeat.
China-1 meanwhile shot to the sole lead on 11 match points, defeating Iran by a 3-1 margin. It was a clinical approach by the Chinese Grandmasters as they drew on board one and three where they played black and won the other games with white to register an easy victory in the end.
With China in front, the Indian men are now in sole second spot a full point behind while China-2 is not too far away on eight points along with Kazakhstan in this nine round event.
With just three rounds remaining, the Indians will know have to tread carefully as a bad result can put them out of medal contention.
In the women`s championship the Indian eves remained on course for a podium finish defeating Iran by a minimal 2.5-1.5 margin. It turned out to be a good outing for top Indian Harika against Atousa Pourkashiyan as the former played some emphatic manoeuvres to give her team an early lead.
On the second board, Eesha Karavade did not have to do much as black and she settled for a draw with Khademalsharieh Sarasadat.
Tania Sachdev had a slightly better position that she played safely to sign peace with Ghader Pour Shayesteh while on the fourth, Padmini Rout survived some anxious moments before achieving the same result against Mitra Hejazipour.
Meanwhile China-1 eves continued to demolish opposition and romped home with a clean 4-0 triumph over Singapore. With the victory China-1 continued atop the tables with 12 points from six matches and Indians are still following them two points behind.
China-2&3 share the third spot on eight points each and the next nearest contender for a medal is three points behind. It seems that out of the three medals at stake, China is poised to take two and one should come India?s way in this section.
The day however belonged to Gupta who made his presence felt on board four yet again. Just a week back, Gupta was going through rough weathers at Asian continental won by team-mate Negi but coming here he has put that result behind.
For the records, Gupta is the best performing Indian here with 4.5 points from the five games he has played. Importantly, apart from doing well for his team, Gupta is also recovering lost ground in terms of rating points here.
It was a Queen pawn game of fluctuating fortunes wherein Gupta was better after the opening and made progress in the middle game.
However an oversight cost him dearly as he lost control of the position and the tide turned in favour of Yiping. As the game progressed there was little hope for the Indian till he set up a brilliant trap to which Yiping had no answers.
The pieces got exchanged in a hurry and Gupta reached a winning queen and pawn endgame after a perfect swindle.
Complete results round 6 open (Team points in bracket): China-2 (8) drew with India (10) 2-2; Iran lost to China-1 (11) 1-3; Iraq lost to Kazakhstan (8) 1-3; Indonesia (6) drew with Mongolia (6) 2-2; Vietnam (7) beat Chinese Taipei (0) 4-0; Korea (5) drew with Yemen (5) 2-2; Hong Kong (2) lost to Singapore (6) 0-4.
Indian results: Zhou Jianchao beat K Sasikiran; P Harikrishna drew with Zhao Jun; Wen Yang drew with Parimarjan Negi; Abhijeet Gupta beat Lou Yiping.
Women: China-1 (12) beat Singapore (2) 4-0; India (10) beat Iran (5) 2.5-1.5; China-3 (8) drew with Indonesia (5) 2-2; China-2 (8) beat Mongolia (3) 3.5-0.5; Kazakhstan (3) drew with Vietnam (4) 2-2.
Indian results: D Harika beat Atousa Pourkashiyan; Khademalsharieh Sarasadat drew with Eesha Karavade; Tania Sachdev drew with Ghader Pour Shayesteh; Mitra Hejazipour drew with Padmini Rout.