India men's team's medal chances took a hit as Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran lost a crucial match which resulted in Indian men's team shock defeat at the hands of eighth seeded Armenia in the ninth round of the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi.
Sasikiran was key to India's success till this round but he ran out of steam on a day when two main players - Viswanthan Anand and P Harikrishna signed peace earl
B Adhiban, in the absence of Vidit Gujrathi, played out a draw on board three to reduce the deficit margin to 1.5-2.5.
It turned out to be a bad day from Indian perspective overall as the women team played out a draw with lower-ranked Italian women.
Tania Sachdev, who had started with five victories in her first five games, crashed to her second defeat in a row and the victory by D Harika on second board could only prove to be the leveler once Koneru Humpy and Padmini Rout were held to draws by lower rated opponents.
With 13 points in their kitty and two rounds to go, the Indian men now need a miracle to reach podium, a feat they achieved in 2014 in the absence of two best players – Anand and Harikrishna. In the last edition the Indian men had finished fourth with Harikrishna in the team.
The match against Armenia was crucial for the Indian prospects but for once Viswanathan Anand did not get much with his white pieces. The Indian ace had done wonders in the earlier games when he got white but in the ninth round Aronian, a regular opponent of Anand in elite chess, equalized out of a King pawn game and drew easily.
Harikrishna drew easily against Gabriel Sargissian through repetition while Adhiban went for the kill but the plans did not materialize against an alert Hrant Melkumyan. It was left to Sasikiran to maintain parity but he fumbled and lost to Haik Martirosyan.
In the women's section, Koneru Humpy played out a draw with Olga Zimina Harika defeated Elena Sedina but Tania Sachev lost to Maria Brunello. The Indian struggle on fourth board continued as Padmini Rout also drew with D Movileanu.
At the top of the tables, Americans riskleaving the lead position to Poland as the were trailing 1-2 to Poland with top player Fabiano Caruana only assured of a draw on the top board. While Poland might be the new leader on 16 points, China dumped Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5 to reach 15 points along with Armenia.
The Indian men need two wins and probably some results to fall in their favour in order to finish in the top three.
In the women's section. Chinese women surged ahead on 16 points beating Kazakhstan 3-1 in a one sided contest while Ukraine were held to a draw by Azerbaijan.
After the draw with Italy, the Indian women also need nothing short of a miracle to win a medal.
Indian results round 9: India (13) lost to Armenia (15) (V Anand drew with Levon Aronian, Gabriel Sargissian drew with P Harikrishna, B Adhiban drew with Hrant Melkumyan, Haik Martirosyan beat Krishnan Sasikiran).
Women: Italy (12) drew with India (12) (Olga Zimina drew with Koneru Humpy, D Harika beat Elena Sedina, Maria Brunello beat Tania Sachdev, D Movileanu drew with Padmini Rout.