Indian eves out of medal contention

Khanty Mansiysk: Leaving out Tania Sachdev proved a costly mistake as India’s medal hopes went up in smoke when its women’s team lost to second seed China in the 10th and penultimate round of the Chess Olympiad here.

As Tania, who was rested for the tie, did not play, Eesha Karavade and S Meenakshi lost on the second and third boards while D Harika and Nisha Mohota managed draws.

The Indian eves slipped to joint seventh spot as a result and even a last round victory against USA would not guarantee a medal now.

Meanwhile, Russia have assured themselves a gold medal with one round to spare, defeating Bulgaria 4-0.

This has, by far been the best performance by the Russian that won its 10th match on the trot and nearest rivals China is four points behind the leaders.

Ukraine, Georgia, Russia two and Poland share the third spot on 15 points each and its going to be a close contest for the remaining two medals.

In the open section being organised simultaneously, the Indian men cruised to a fine 3-1 victory over Switzerland thanks to victories by Krishnan Sasikiran and Surya Shekhar Ganguly on the first and third board respectively.

While P Harikrishna and G N Gopal settled for draws, the victory took the team to a respectable joint 13th spot on 13 points.

At the top of the tables the keen tussles continued and Ukraine defeated France by a huge 3.5-0.5 margin to retain the top slot on 18 points.

Russia also had a good day beating the Chinese by a minimal margin and that ensured they remained within striking distance of the leaders on 17 points.

Israel defeated USA 3-1 to stake their claim for a medal. On 16 points now, Israel meets Ukraine in the final round.

The Indian strategy to omit Tania Sachdev did not come good as it elevated Eesha to the second board wherein she had to meet Ju Wenjun.

Playing white on the top board, Harika was her usual, solid, self and drew without much ado against higher rated Yifan Hou.

Nisha Mohota, who has not won a game this Olympiad, also drew with higher ranked Huang Qian on the last board while on the third board S Meenakshi blundered from a promising position against Zhao Xue.