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US dash Indian men's hopes

November 23, 2008 18:23 IST

The Indian men's hopes of a podium finish went up in smoke after they lost 0.5-3.5 to United States of America while the women's team held France [Images] 2-2 in the ninth round of the 32nd Chess Olympiad now in progress in Dresden.

With just two rounds remaining, the Indian men stayed on 11 points while the women inched themselves to 12 points. 

National champion Surya Shekhar Ganguly was the only saving grace for the men after he drew with Alexander Onischuk on the third board while Krishnan Sasikiran, P Harikrishna and GN Gopal went down to Gata Kamsky, Hikaru Nakamura and Varuzhan Akobian, respectively.

The Indian women held higher ranked France thanks to fine victory by D Harika on the top board.

Playing true to her form, Harika defeated Marie Sebag on the top board while Tania Sachdev held Almira Cruikshank to a draw.

Nissa Mahouts also played out a draw on the third board with Silvia Coll as but Sophie Millet ensured a draw for her team by beating Swati Ghate on the fourth board.

In an amazing turn of events at the top half of the table, Israel defeated overnight leaders Armenia in the men's section while in the women's, favourite China were outdone by Serbia.

Israel emerged as the new leader in the open section on 16 points out of 18 and are now followed by Armenia and Ukraine on 15 points each.

The lead in the women's section is now shared by Serbia, Poland and Ukraine, all on 15 points.

The Indian men slumped to joint 29th spot in the rankings while the women are now joint 11th and need a lot of luck apart from winning the remaining two matches for a podium finish.

Sasikiran lost to Kamsky who played the black side of a Grunfeld defense. The middle game was fought on an even keel but Sasikiran missed the thread of the position as the game progressed further. When the dust subsided Kamsky had an extra exchange and the rest was child's play.

Nakamura outwitted Harikrishna with some imaginative display. Going for a rare set up as white, Nakamura won a pawn when Harikrishna fumbled and his technique thereafter was exquisite. The game lasted 44 moves.

D Harika saved the blushes for the women on the top board against Sebag in a Slav defense game. Playing white, Harika seized the initiative early and won two pieces for a rook to romp home after 72 moves.

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