Sasikiran has been India`s mainstay in the team

Ningbo, China: The Indian men went down to United States of America 1-3 on Thursday and are now on the verge of going out of medal contention in the world team chess championship here.

After raising visions of a better second half by beating Israel in the previous round, the Indians faltered again with black pieces which proved crucial.

On the second board, Krishnan Sasikiran went down to Alexander Onischuk while Parimarjan Negi found his nemesis in Robert Hess on the fourth board.

The Americans drew the other two games with Gata Kamsky holding his fort easily with black pieces against P Harikrishna and Yuri Shulman played out a draw with Surya Shekhar Ganguly to seal the victory.

Meanwhile, Armenians maintained their winning run at the expense of hosts China and remained at the top of the tables on eight points out of a possible ten.

The Armenians won the match by a minimal 2.5-1.5 margin. Russia and Hungary remained in pursuit of the leader with fine victories against Egypt and Israel respectively. While Russians won 3-1, Hungarian proved even more ruthless winning 3.5-0.5.

Ukraine became clear fourth on six points with a spirited effort against Azerbaijan. While the first three boards ended in draws, Gabriel Sargissian provided the crucial blow for Ukraine defeating Alexander Moiseenko.

The fifth place is now shared by Azerbaijan, China and USA who all have five points while Israel is now eighth with four points in their kitty. Past the half way stage and with only four games to go, the Indians need a makeover to come out of their ninth place on three points. Egypt remained at the bottom of the tables yet to open their account.

Sasikiran has been India`s mainstay in the team championships but this time the second highest rated player in the country has not been able to display top form.

Against Onischuk, the King`s Indian defense by Sasikiran did not come good as the former Russian gained a decent advantage in the middle game.

Sasikiran tried hard to salvage but his position worsened in the endgame and Onischuk picked up the crucial point in 58 moves.

Negi fell prey to an oversight in the middle game against Hess. Playing black, Negi faced a surprising Alapin variation by Hess and apparently equalized in the ensuing middle game.

However in the later stages, Hess came up with some tactical stroke that Negi missed and lost in 32 moves.

Ganguly spent some time in the early stages against Shulman`s French defense but could not do much while Harikrishna drew with Kamsky in 36 moves.


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