Chess Olympiad | Indian women closer to gold; Uzbekistan battles to hold India 2

Pragganandhaa to the fore again and provides the lead, but Gukesh’s first loss dents the team’s medal prospects

Pragganandhaa to the fore again and provides the lead, but Gukesh’s first loss dents the team’s medal prospects

The dice rolled in favor of the host in the women’s section with India 1 moving within the gold medal-grabbing distance in the Chess Olympiad.

In the 10th and penultimate round on Monday, the trio of K. Humpy, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni scored thumping victories to set up a resounding 3.5-0.5 over Kazakhstan, one of the three fellow overnight leaders.

What gave India 1 a one-point lead at 17 points was the 2-2 deadlock involving the other two overnight leaders Georgia and Poland. As things stand, a final-round victory on Tuesday over one of the lesser teams will ensure the historic gold medal.

The joy could have stood doubled if in-form D. Gukesh did not slip from a clearly better position to a heart-breaking loss against rising superstar Nodirbek Abdusattorov in the Open section. Gukesh’s defeat following a late one-move blunder in time-pressure nullified the lead provided by R. Praggnanandhaa and the match ended 2-2. Before Uzbekistan escaped with a draw to reach 17 points, Armenia reached the tally with a 3-1 drubbing of Azerbaijan.

Golden chance missed

With India 2 missing a golden opportunity to displace Uzbekistan from the pedestal, it now has the company of USA, India 1, Armenia at 16 points for a share of the third spot.

On a day when Magnus Carlsen drew and Norway (12) lost 1.5-2.5 to Moldova for its third loss, India 1 stayed in medal contention with a 2.5-1.5 victory over formidable Iran. P. Harikrishna’s loss on the top board was more than compensated by Vidit Gujrathi’s first victory, combined with SL Narayanan’s late, match-deciding triumph.

Top standings (after 10 rounds):

Open: 1-2. Uzbekistan, Armenia (17 each), 3-5. India 2, India 1, USA (16 each), 6-11. Netherlands, Spain, England, Germany, Serbia and Moldova (15 each).

Women: 1. India 1 (17), 2-4. Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia (16 each), 6-10. India 2, USA, Kazakhstan, India 3 and Slovakia (15 each).

The results (10th round): Open: India 2 (16) drew with Uzbekistan (17) 2-2 (D. Gukesh lost to Nodirbek Abdusattorov; Nihal Sarin drew with Nodirbek Yakubboev; R. Praggnanandhaa bt Javokhir Sindarov; B. Adhiban drew with Jakhongir Vakhidov).

Iran (15) lost to India 1 (16) 1.5-2.5 (Parham Maghsoodloo bt P. Harikrishna; M. Amin Tabatabaei lost to Vidit Gujrathi; Pouya Idani drew with Arjun Erigaisi; Bardiya Daneshvar lost to SL Narayanan).

India 3 (13) drew with Slovakia (13) 2-2 (Surya Shekhar Ganguly drew with Jergus Pechac; SP Sethuraman lost to Viktor Gazik; M. Karthikeyan drew with Juraj Druska; Abhimanyu Puranik bt Christopher Repka).

Azerbaijan (14) lost to Armenia (17) 1-3; USA (16) bt Turkey (14) 3-1; Serbia (15) drew with Netherlands (15) 2-2; Hungary (14) drew with Ukraine (14) 2-2; Germany (15) bt Israel (13) 3-1; England (15) bt Italy (13) 3-1; France (14) drew with Lithuania (14) 2-2; Norway (12) lost to Moldova (15) 1.5-2.5.

Women: India 1 (17) bt Kazakhstan (15) 3.5-0.5 (K. Humpy bt Zhansaya Abdumalik; R. Vaishali drew with Bibisara Assaubayeva; Tania Sachdev bt Xeniya Balabayeva; Bhakti Kulkarni bt Gulskhan Nakhbayeva).

Netherlands (13) lost to India 2 (15) 1-3 (Peng Zhaoqin bt Vantika Agrawal; Machteld van Foreest lost to Padmini Rout; Rosa Ratsma lost to Mary Ann Gomes; Tea Lanchava lost to Divya Deshmukh).

India 3 (15) bt Sweden (13) 3-1 (Eesha Karavade drew with Pia Cramling; PV Nandhidhaa bt Inna Agrest; Varshini Sahithi drew with Anna Cramling Bellon; Pratyusha Bodda bt Vikrotia Johansson).

Georgia (16) drew with Poland (16) 2-2; Germany (14) lost to Ukraine (16) 1.5-2.5; Armenia (14) lost to Azerbaijan (16) 0-4; USA (15) bt Indonesia (13) 3-1; Cuba (13) lost to Slovakia (15) 1.5-2.5; Mongolia (14) drew with Bulgaria (14) 2-2.

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