Indian men cruised to a 3.5-0.5 victory over Mongolia to almost ensure the silver medal in the Asian Nations chess cup in Zaozhuang, China.
The trio of P Harikrishna, Parimarjan Negi and G N Gopal completed what was a regulation victory for the second seeded Indians. However, Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran was the only Indian to drop a half point on the top board against Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan.
China-1 defeated Singapore by a minimal margin on the top board to stay ahead of India on 15 match points with just one round to go in the premier Asian team event.
The victory here will also assure China-1 a berth in the next World team championship for which the Indians will now have to wait and see how things unfold in the Chess Olympiad.
The Indians will face Iraq in the final round.
Deservedly, the third place is held by China-2 on 11 points and it seems that the final result is already out barring a debacle from any of the fancied teams in the last round.
Meanwhile, pitted against leaders China-1, the Indian eves succumbed to a humiliating 0.5-3.5 defeat in the women's championship with only Mary Ann Gomes stopping the whitewash on the fourth board.
D Harika lost to Zhao Xue, Eesha Karavade was no match for Ju Wenjun, while Tania Sachdev was outplayed by Huang Qian on what turned out to be a comprehensive victory for the hosts. Mary Ann drew with Ding Yixin to stop the rout.
As a result of this unexpected loss by a huge margin, the Indian women crashed to joint second spot and now they will have to tackle the China-3 team efficiently in the last round in order to bag the bronze medal.
As things stand, China-1 have won the gold in this section with a round to spare scoring 16 points in all, while China-2 and India are sharing the second spot on 12 points apiece.
China-3 are on 11 points and though they are a bunch of young, inexperienced and lower-rated girls, their team spirit and the will to win has taken them to sole fourth spot here, perilously close to a medal from Indian perspective.
Mathematically, the Indian women need a 2-2 draw to make sure that they get a bronze.
Silver, however, is now out of question unless China-2 meet with a major reversal at the hands of Singapore in the last round, which is an unlikely scenario.
In case of a victory also, the silver medal is not a possibility as China-2 is ahead of India on game points.
Complete results round 8 open (team points in bracket): Singapore (8) lost to China-1 (15) 1.5-2.5; Mongolia (8) lost to India (13) 0.5-3.5; Vietnam (10) beat Kazakhstan (9) 3.5-0.5; China-2 (11) beat Hong Kong (2) 4-0; Korea (5) lost to Iran (9) 0.5-3.5; Yemen (5) lost to Iraq (9) 0.5-3.5; Indonesia (8) beat Chinese Taipei (0) 4-0.
Indian results: Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan drew with K Sasikiran; P Harikrishna beat Munkhgal Gombosuren; Battulga Namkhai lost to Parimarjan Negi; G N Gopal beat Nasanjargal Urtnasan.
Women: China-1 (16) beat India (12) 3.5-05; China-3 (11) beat Singapore (2) 2.5-1.5; China-2 beat Iran (6) 3.5-0.5; Kazakhstan (5) lost to Indonesia (7) 1-3; Vietnam (6) beat Mongolia (3) 3-1.
Indian results: Zhao Xue beat D Harika; Eesha Karavade lost to Ju Wenjun; Huang Qian beat Tania Sachdev; Mary Ann Gomes drew with Ding Yixin.