Indian men failed to come out good against Iran 'A' and had to settle for a 2-2 draw in the second round of the 14th Asian team chess championships in Isfahan, Iran.
The Iran 'A' players deserved all credit for an excellent performance against higher rated Indians on all four boards and as a result of a deadlock on all four, the Indian men slipped to second spot in the standings list after Vietnam blanked Afghanistan by a 4-0 margin.
The event being played on a double round-robin basis will see as a many as three days with two rounds and it will be more of a survival of the fittest in the rounds to come as the battle will become more intense.
As things stand now, Vietnam has got seven points after the first two rounds while Indians are a distant second on 5.5 points. Iran 'A', with 5 points to back them is a close third while Turkmenistan is next in line on 4 points.
The fifth place in the six-teams championship is held by Iran 'B' that took one point from Turkmenistan to take their tally to 2 points while Afghanistan is at the bottom of the tables having just a half point.
The Indian eves in fact took the center-stage from their men counterpart in the event and emerged sole leaders in the four-team women championship being held simultaneously.
After a 1.5-1.5 draw against formidable Vietnamese the Indians rose to the occasion to beat Iran 'A' by a healthy 2.5-0.5 margin to reach four points in this section.
In the other encounter of the day, Vietnam was again held to a draw by Iran 'B' and stands second on 3 points now. The third place was jointly held by two Iranian teams in the fray with both having 2.5 points each.
While there are four games in the men's section in each round, in the women's only three boards are played and after a lopsided start by Vietnam, the Indian girls emerged as favourites for the crown.
For Indian men, it did not turn out to be a good day at all despite fielding all Grandmasters against Iran 'A' led by Grandmaster Ghaem Maghami Ehsan, the highest rated Iranian player ever.
Playing white on the top board for India, GM Krishnan Sasikiran failed to breach the solid defenses of Maghami in a Nimzo Indian defense game and signed peace in just 28 moves.
On the second board, GM Abhijit Kunte could do little against Elshan Moradiabadi with his black pieces and after subsequent exchnages arising from a Sicilian Taimanov he too was forced to split the point after 48 moves.
Surprisingly, National Champion Surya Shekhar Ganguly failed to get himself rolling with white pieces against Mahjoob Morteza and had to settle for the draw after 22 moves after which all was left to Sandipan Chanda on the fourth board but he too did not succeed against Darban Moprteza in the 65-mover Sicilian game.
Amongst the Indian women, Nisha Mohota scored a fine victory over Shadi Paridar, Mary Ann Gomes did well to hold higher rated Atousa Pourkashiyan while Swati Ghate had it easy against Ghader Pour Shayesthe.
Complete results round 2: Men -- (Team points in bracket after the name, overall score in the end):
Afganistan (0.5) lost to Vietnam (7) 0-4: Asefi Zaheeruddeen lost to Nguyen Anh Dung; Nguyen Ngoc Truongson beat Fidaeyee Habibullah; Sarway Hamidullah lost to Le Quang Liem; Tu Hoang Thong beat Osman Barbak
Iran 'B' (2) lost to Turkmenistan (4) 1-3: Ardeshi Mehrdad lost to Amanmurad Kakageldyev; Sergei Simonenko beat Sharbaf Mohsen; Toufighi Homayoon lost to Amanov Mesgen; Bayramsahatov Serdar Soleimani Shantiya
India (5.5) drew with Iran 'A' (5): Krishnan Sasikiran drew with Ghaem Maghami Ehsan; Elshan Moradiabadi drew with Abhijit Kunte; Surya Shekhar Ganguly drew with Mahjoob Morteza; Darban Morteza drew with Sandipan Chanda
Vietnam (3) drew with Iran 'B' (2.5) 1.5-1.5: Nguyen Thi Thanh beat Navabi Shirin; Salman Mahini Mona beat Le Thanh Tu; Hoang Thi Bao Tram drew with Hakimifard Ghazal
India (4) beat Iran A (2.5): Nisha Mohota beat Shadi Paridar; Atousa Pourkashiyan drew with Mary Ann Gomes; Swati Ghate beat Ghader Pour Shayesteh.