NEW DELHI: A defensive Surya Shekhar Ganguly cashed in on the desperation of Canadian Pascal Charbonneau to star in India’s none-too-impressive win (2.5-1.5) in its opening round of the Chess Olympiad at Dresden, on Thursday.
Sandipan Chanda and P. Hari Krishna drew before Ganguly’s sustained defensive manoeuvres made an over-ambitious Charbonneau give up a rook for a bishop and pawn in search of initiative. But soon, Ganguly shifted from defence to offence by marshalling his resources on the kingside to provide a ray of hope for the Indian camp.
Charbonneau, best remembered for stunning Viswanathan Anand during Canada’s surprise victory in the last Olympiad in Turin in 2006, saw no way of stopping Ganguly’s queen and rook from playing havoc and resigned immediately. Later, G. N. Gopal drew his game on the third board.
The Indian ladies too just about managed to put it across Switzerland by a similar margin. Swati Ghate was the lone winner while the other three boards ended as draws. Swati forced an endgame where she had a bishop and two pawns against her rival’s lone knight but had to face some stubborn resistance before coasting home.
The opening round’s biggest surprise came in the Open section where 41st seeded Germany 2 stunned sixth seeded Bulgaria 2.5-1.5. Bulgaria, which rested World No. 1 Veselin Topalov for this match, lost the top-two boards where Ivan Cheparinov surrendered to Georg Meier and Kiril Georgiev went down to Arik Braun.
Fifth seed Hungary, which rested Peter Leko, was held 2-2 by Iran. Hungary, which enjoyed a rating difference of over 100 points on each of the four boards, could do little as Ehsan Ghaem Maghami held Judit Polgar on the top board and other lesser-rated Grandmasters from Iran followed suit against their fancied rivals.
France and Israel, seeded seventh and eighth, also settled for 2-2 results against Montenegro and Latvia, respectively.
In the ladies’ section, Argentina created a sensation by holding second seed Ukraine 2-2 and 48th seed Germany 2 surprised Sweden 2.5-1.5.
Leading results (first round): Open: India bt Canada 2.5-1.5 (P. Hari Krishna drew with Mark Bluvshtein; Surya Shekhar Ganguly bt Pascal Charbonneau; G.N. Gopal drew with Igor Zugic; Sandipan Chanda drew with Nikolay Noritsyn); Russia bt Switzerland 2.5-1.5; Vietnam lost to Ukraine 1.5-2.5; China bt Philippines 2.5-1.5; Macedonia lost to Azerbaijan 0-4; Hungary drew with Iran 2-2; Germany 2 bt Bulgaria 2.5-1.5; France drew with Montenegro 2-2; Latvia drew with Israel 2-2; Armenia bt Italy 4-0; Iceland lost to USA 1.5-2.5; Germany 1 bt Scotland 3.5-0.5; Germany 3 lost to Spain 0.5-3.5; Egypt lost to Romania 0.5-3.5.
Ladies: India bt Switzerland 2.5-.1.5 (D. Harika drew with Gundala Heinatz; Tania Sachdev drew with Monika Seps; Nisha Mohota drew with Barbara Hund; Swati Ghate bt Anastasia Gavrilova); Russia bt Azerbaijan 4-0; Argentina drew with Ukraine 2-2; China bt Croatia 3.5-0.5; England lost to Georgia 1.5-2.5; France bt Moldova 3-1; Italy lost to Armenia 0.5-3.5; USA bt Montenegro 3-1; Kazakhstan drew with Hungary 0.5-3.5; Poland bt Austria 3-1.