Istanbul (Turkey): On a disappointing day for India, the men`s team bowed out of medal contention after conceding another draw, while the women were tamed 1-3 by Russia in the ninth round of the 40th Chess Olympiad here.
The Indian men were held by the Georgians, who did not fancy their chances when looking at the ratings. The underdogs, however, came close to beating the Indian men but for national champion Abhijeet Gupta who threw caution to the wind when cornered.
K Sasikiran mishandled a slightly better position and drew with Mikheil Mchedilishvili on the top board while P Harikrishna also stood better but could only bring home a half point on board two.
G N Gopal struggled from the early middle game stage and was eventually outplayed by Levan Pantsulaia on the fourth board. By then the Indians were looking at a painful defeat as Gupta only had a drawn endgame on board.
The Bhilwara lad, however, went for make or break and sacrificed a piece for three pawns in what was a dead-drawn endgame.
Looking for an elusive victory, Gupta even landed in a lost position but fought on till Sanikidze returned the favour and landed in a lost endgame. In the end, Gupta had two queens against Sanikidze`s Queen and Bishop and the marathon had a sweet end for India after 105 moves.
Gupta`s win, however, did not change much for the team even as overnight leaders Russia were shocked by USA on the top board.
As a result, Russia were joined at the top by China, Armenia and USA and what was looking like an easy ride for the Russians has now become a four-way tie at the top on 15 points each.
The Indian men are on joint 17th spot now with 12 points in their bag. A podium finish seems out, but they can still figure in top ten with victories in the last two rounds. The appointment is with strong Cubans in the tenth round.
In the women`s event, the best Indian performer Tania Sachdev also took a break from her all-decisive results and played out a draw on the third board as white against Nadezhda Kosintseva and soon after it was clear that the Indian girls were fighting a lost battle.
On board one, D Harika also settled for peace against Tatiana Kosintseva but by then it was all over as Soumya Swaminathan went down to former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk on the fourth board while Eesha Karavade proved no match for Valentina Gunina on the second board.
The Chinese women continued with their winning ways and downed France 3-1 with reigning world champion Yifan Hou providing the crucial blow on the top board.
Zhao Xue also won her game on the second board and the Chinese girls in current form look simply unstoppable in their quest for gold.
While China is now on 16 points out of nine matches, Russia remains a close second a full point behind while the Indian eves stumbled to joint seventh spot from joint second.
However it`s still not all over as the Indian team meets lower ranked Israel in the tenth and penultimate round and a big victory might just propel them closer to a podium finish.
Important results round 8 open: USA (15) beat Russia (15) 3-1; Philippines (13) lost to China (15) 0.5-3.5; Armenia (15) beat Germany (13) 2.5-1.5; Poland (13) drew with Azerbaijan (13) 2-2; Ukraine (14) beat France (12) 3-1; Netherlands (14) beat Israel (12) 3-1; Serbia (11) lost to Argentina (13) 1.5-2.5; Hungary (13) beat Italy (11) 3-1; Georgia (12) drew with India (12) 2-2 (Mikheil Mchdilishvili drew with K Sasikiran, P Harikrishna drew with Merab Gagunashvili; Tornike Sanikidze lost to Abhijeet Gupta; G N Gopal lost to Levan Pantsulaia); Vietnam (13) beat England (11) 3-1; Uzbekistan (12) drew with Slovenia (12) 2-2; Austria (11) lost to Czech Republic (13) 0-4; Brazil (11) lost to Belarus (13) 1.5-2.5; Denmark (13) beat FYROM (11) 2.5-1.5.
Women: China (16) beat France (13) 3-1; India (13) lost to Russia (15) 1-3 (D Harika drew with Tatiana Kosintseva; Valentina Gunina beat Eesha Karavade; Tania Sachdev drew with Nadezhda Kosintseva; Alexandra Kosteniuk beat Soumya Swaminathan); Kazakhstan (14) beat Uzbekistan (13) 2.5-1.5; USA (12) lost the Ukraine (14) 1-3; Bulgaria (12) lost to Poland (14) 1.5-2.5; Iran (11) lost to Armenia (13) 1-3; Georgia (11) lost to Azerbaijan (13) 1.5-2.5; Israel *13) beat Serbia (11) 3-1; Hungary (12) drew with Slovenia (12) 2-2; Vietnam (11) lost to Germany (13) 1.5-2.5; Spain (13) beat Lithuania (11) 3.5-0.5.