Rakesh Rao

TURIN: The gallant Indian women fell out of top-10 bracket after running into top seeded Russians in the final round of the Chess Olympiad before the men's team ended its agonizing campaign with a hard-earned victory over Italy `B' at the Oval here.

On a day when the Armenian men and the Ukrainian women made history by taking their maiden gold in the game's premier team competition, China emerged as the team of the Olympiad by winning medals in both sections. In the Open section, China took the silver, its first-ever medal while as defending champion in the ladies category, the team followed Ukraine and Russia into the medal bracket.

Armenia, winner of the bronze medal in 1992, 2002 and 2004, was worthy of the gold after being the only undefeated team in the field of 148 teams. For once, favourite Russia was knocked out of the medal bracket after losing to Israel 1-3 in the final round. This result, coupled with China's victory over Netherlands and USA's whipping of Norway pushed Russia to the sixth place, its worst in decades.

On this day, the Indian men went through the motions and the result did not mean much. With an off-colour Viswanthan Anand choosing to stay away from the action, victories for K. Sasikiran and P. Hari Krishna on the top two boards, followed Sandipan Chanda's fighting draw on the contributed to the victory. Surya Shekhar Ganguly crashed to his second straight loss on the third table.

The narrow victory lifted India from its overnight 33rd spot to the eventual 30 in the standings. This was India's worst showing since 1998 when it finished 33rd. Since then India took the eighth spot in 2000, 29th in 2002 and a best-ever sixth in 2004.

In comparison, the Indian ladies fared better and took the 12th spot after suffering a 1-2 defeat at the hands of top seed Russia. While K. Humpy and D. Harika drew, Swati Ghate's defeat on the third board proved decisive.

The results: Open: Armenia (36) drew with Hungary (32.5) 2-2; China (34) bt Netherlands (31) 2.5-1.5; Russia (32) lost to Israel (33) 1-3; Bulgaria (32) bt France (32) 2.5-1.5; USA (33) bt Norway (29.5) 3.5-0.5; Ukraine (32) bt Poland (30) 3-1; Spain (32) bt Denmark (30) 3-1; Cuba (30.5) drew with Georgia (31) 2-2; Italy 'B' (28.5) lost to India (29.5) 1.5-2.5 (Niccolo Ronchetti lost to K. Sasikiran; P. Hari Krishna bt Daniele Vocaturo; Sabino Brunello bt Surya Shekhar Ganguly; Sandipan Chanda drew with Denis Rombaldoni).

Standings:

1. Armenia, 2. China, 3-4. USA and Israel, 5. Hungary, 6-10. Russia, France, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Spain. 30-35. India, Norway, Brazil, FYROM, Canada and Italy `A'.

Women: Ukraine (29.5) drew with Armenia (24) 1.5-1.5; India (23) lost to Russia (27.5) 1-2 (K. Humpy drew with Alexandra Kosteniuk; D. Harika drew with Tatiana Kosintseva; Swati Ghate lost to Nadezhda Kosinteva); China (27.5) bt Belarus (22.5) 2.5-0.5; Germany (23.5) drew with USA (24.5) 1.5-1.5; Poland (22.5) lost to Georgia (24.5) 0.5-2.5; Hungary (24.5) bt Greece (22.5) 2.5-0.5; Czech Republic (24) bt France (22.5) 2.5-0.5; Philippines (22) lost to Slovenia (24) 0.5-2.5; Cuba (23) drew with Vietnam (23) 1.5-1.5; Mongolia (21) lost to Netherlands (24.5) 3-0.

Standings: 1. Ukraine, 2. Russia, 3. China, 4-7. USA, Hungary, Georgia and Netherlands, 8-10. Armenia, Slovenia and Czech Republic. 11. Germany, 12-17. India, Bulgaria, Romania, Vietnam, Cuba and Latvia.

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