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India lose to Russia, remain joint third

January 11, 2010 20:22 IST

India's unbeaten run in the World Team Chess Championship on Monday came to a halt after they were handed a 1.5-2.5 defeat by top seed Russia, who remained on top of the tally after the sixth round.

India, who had slipped to joint third after they drew with Armenia in the fifth round, failed to make any headways and now share the position with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Israel with eight match points each.

Russia now share the lead with the USA as they have 15.5 points each.

Krishnan Sasikiran did well to hold Alexander Grischuk on the top board while P Harikrishna was lucky to survive a scare against Dmitry Jakovenko.

On the third board, Grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly tried hard but could not break through Vladimir Malakhov's defence.

The Indian hopes of holding the Russians were dashed on the last board when S Arun Prasad also could not hold his position against Nikita Vituigov.

The Indians now have to chart comprehensive victories over Egypt and Brazil if they are to finish the elite team event among the toppers.

In the next round, India will meet Egypt and the team think tank has decided to rest Ganguly and Arun. On Monday, Sasikiran could do little with white and in the end it was a good performance from him against a highly regarded opposition. This was Sasikiran's fourth 2700+ rated opponent in the tournament and his score of 2.5 points speaks volumes about his commitment.

Playing the white side of a Queen's Indian, Sasikiran allowed a balanced game to Grischuk after routine theory and the exchanges took place at regular intervals leading the positions to a draw in quick time.

Harikrishna was a piece less against Jakovenko but fought on bravely in what many thought to be a difficult-to-survive position. The Russian could not find the best path and it was a picturesque draw in the final position when Harikrishna sacrificed his rook for the knight.

Ganguly tried his best to beat Malakhov in a side variation of the Berlin defense and enjoyed better prospects for the major part of the game. However, the Russian proved quite up to the task in finding the best defense and this one too was drawn after a long battle.

Arun was gradually outplayed by Vituigov from a Caro Kann defense game by transposition. The Indian felt the heat with his pieces lying passive and wriggled out only after losing a pawn. Vituigov conducted the technical part well to score a much needed full point for his team. Meanwhile, the United States gave yet another impressive show and beat Brazil 3-1 to remain in joint lead along with the Russians on 10 Match Points.

Armenia was shocked by Greece and lost by 1-3 losing on the second and fourth board, while in other matches of the day, Turkey opened their account after holding Egypt to a 2-2 draw and Azerbaijan drew with Israel (2-2).

In the overall standings, the Azerbaijani top this group so far as they have more game points -- 13.5 -- than any other team.

Greece is in sole seventh spot with six points and two of their victories have come against Russia and Armenia -- the top contenders for the title here. Egypt has three points, one more than Brazil who are a point in front of tail enders Turkish men.

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