Rakesh Rao

TURIN: It took a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of Israel to put the Indian men firmly out of the medal race of the Chess Olympiad here on Friday.

The women, though victorious and stayed in the joint fourth spot with USA, will require big wins over other contenders over the next two rounds to gatecrash into the medal bracket. Still, the Indian women, who defeated Romania 2-1 for their seventh victory in 11 rounds, have so far exceeded all expectations by playing above their ninth seeding.

Swati Ghate won easily after her rival blundered away a piece and sacrificed another in desperation. Earlier, K. Humpy and D. Harika drew without difficulties on the higher boards. At one stage, Harika looked like winning but later, she could not help getting into a theoretically drawn endgame involving rooks and pawns.

But the performance of the men's team continued to be dismal. The defeats of K. Sasikiran and Sandipan Chanda, with black pieces on the even numbered boards, completed India's cup of woes as far as the medal hunt was concerned.

As expected, V. Anand drew early with his old `friendly foe' Boris Gelfand and left it to the other members of the team to pull off something dramatic.

P. Hari Krishna, after holding some promise against Emil Sutovsky decided that no breakthrough was possible and took a risk-free draw.

In the meantime, Sasikiran flirted with danger against Ilia Smirin and never looked better in any position.

Playing with a pawn less, Sasikiran sacrificed a rook for a minor piece but could not escape his first defeat that came in 84 moves.

The results (11th round):

Open: Armenia (32) bt Czech Republic (27.5) 3-1; China (28.5) lost to France (28.5) 1.5-2.5; USA (28) bt Russia (28) 2.5-1.5; Uzbekistan (26.5) lost to Cuba (27.5) 1.5-2.5; Romania (26.5) drew with Georgia (26.5) 2-2; Azerbaijan (25.5) lost to Ukraine (27.5) 1-3; Hungary (26.5) drew with Denmark (26.5) 2-2; India (25.5) lost to Israel (27.5) 1-3 (V. Anand drew with Boris Gelfand; Ilia Smirin bt K. Sasikiran; P. Hari Krishna drew with Emil Sutovksy; Boris Avrukh bt Sandipan Chanda).

Women: Bulgaria (20) lost to Ukraine (25.5) 0.5-2.5; Georgia (21) lost to Russia (24.5) 1-2; China (23.5) bt Greece (19.5) 3-0; India (21.5) bt Romania (20) 2-1 (K. Humpy drew with Corina Peptan; Cristina Foisor drew with D. Harika; Swati Ghate bt Ana Calotescu); USA (21.5) bt Slovenia (19.5) 2.5-0.5; France (20.5) drew with Armenia (20.5) 1.5-1.5; Hungary (20.5) bt Croatia (19.5) 2-1; Poland (20) drew with Latvia (19.5) 1.5-1.5; Netherlands (20) bt Vietnam (18.5) 2-1; Lithuania (19) drew with Philippines (19) 1.5-1.5; Sweden (18.5) lost to Germany (19.5) 1-2; Belarus (20) bt Ecuador (18) 2.5-0.5; Czech Republic (18.5) lost to Slovakia (19.5) 1-2.

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