Chinese men strike it rich against Uzbekistan

Neelotpal Das of India `C' watches M. Turpanov of Kyrgyzstan make a move in the eighth round of the Asian team chess championship at Jodhpur on Tuesday. Among the onlookers are S. Meenakshi (extreme left), who completed her WGM norm. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Neelotpal Das of India `C' watches M. Turpanov of Kyrgyzstan make a move in the eighth round of the Asian team chess championship at Jodhpur on Tuesday. Among the onlookers are S. Meenakshi (extreme left), who completed her WGM norm. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy  

JODHPUR APRIL 15. After struggling to get its act together for the better part of the Asian team chess championship, China struck big against holder Uzbekistan to regain custody of a one-point lead after the eighth and penultimate round of the men's section here at the Abhay Days Hotel on Tuesday.

Unlike the women's category, where China is speeding away, the men's title race witnessed another twist today. After India `A' opened the eighth round as leader, China made amends for its defeat to India `B' on Monday and ambushed Uzbekistan 3.5-0.5. Things became more comfortable for China when India `A' slipped to a surprising 1.5-2.5 loss to Kazakhstan on the top table.

As a result, China took its tally to 21 while India and India `C' trailed at 20 each.

``After losing to India `B' yesterday, our players were very disappointed,'' said China's captain Ye Jiangchaun and continued, "so we told ourselves that the only way to catch up with the Indians was to beat Uzbekistan by a big margin. I'm very pleased with today's result.''

Ye Jiangchaun obviously had reasons to be pleased. Having eluded the grasp of Koneru Humpy on Monday, he dismissed the challenge of World Cup runner-up Rustam Kasimdzhanov after completely dominating their Sicilian Defence game.

Zhang Zhong took a bit longer to stop Saidali Iuldachev after Xu Jun had agreed to a draw against Shukrat Safin on the third board. Zhang Pengxiang continued with his fine form by brushing aside Tair Vakhidov on the fourth board.

On the other hand, India `A' never looked like putting it across Kazakhstan. Though Kazakhstan managed only 1.5 points each against the India `C' and `B' teams, it played differently against the country's best combination.

Sasikiran fought all the way before holding Darmen Savakasov after Surya Sekhar Ganguly, playing black, surrendered to Pavel Kostur on the second board. P. Hari Krishna and Abhijit Kunte were engaged in equal battles and contributed equally to the team's tally.

India `C', too, was less than impressive on way to inflicting a 3-1 defeat on Kyrgyzstan. Still, the result helped it keep alive its hopes of finishing ahead of India `A'.

Lanka Ravi, the man in irrepressible form for India `C', had another fruitful day. He stretched his GM-norm to eight games and reinforced the chances of winning the third-board prize by racing away to a 21-move victory over A. Shukuraliev.

Dinesh Kumar looked in a better position against Aziz Umarbekov but eventually settled for a draw. Neelotpal Das was an impressive winner after Sriram Jha managed a draw on the second board.

India `B' paid dearly for making a heavy weather of its match against Sri Lanka. India `B', which won 2.5-1.5 after R. B. Ramesh lost and Tejas Bakre drew, found its campaign coming to a premature end after receiving a last-round bye. If Ramesh had won with the white pieces today, India `B' would have reached 20 points — 0.5 more than Kazakhstan — and this would have helped the team avoid the bye.

For the Sri Lankans, today's was their most fruitful outing in the tournament, following the 3.5-0.5 win over last-placed Macau. The Sri Lankan score stands at 8.5 points, including two points from its second-round bye.

India `A' women scrape through

Even the Sri Lankan women came close to beating India `A' today before their inexperience led to a 0-3 defeat. After Aarthie Ramaswamy won easily on the second board, S. Vijayalakshmi was staring at defeat against Vineetha Wijesuriya on the top board.

Much to the relief of Vijayalakshmi as well as the Indian camp, Vineetha overlooked the possibility of checkmating her rival and lost her way. A desperate Vijayalakshmi managed to trade her queen for two rooks and a minor piece, and gradually plotted her victory.

If Vineetha ran out of ideas, her teammate Thushari Mahawaththa ran out of time against Dronavalli Harika on the last board. While Harika was finding it tough to defend her position following a kingside offensive, Thushari failed to keep an eye on the clock and was declared `lost-on-time'.

The Indians need to thank their stars for escaping from a 1-2 defeat against a team which has managed just 3.5 points from 24 games so far.

What's more, if India `A' found itself closer to the silver medal with 17.5 points — 1.5 behind leader China — it owes a lot to India `C' which held back Vietnam at 16 points following a 1.5-1.5 result.

Eesha Karavade enlarged her seven-game Woman International Master-norm to nine games after a well-fought draw against former Asian champion and highly-rated Hoang Thanh Trang. Anupama Gokhale and Saimeera Ravi also remained undefeated to help India `A's cause.

WGM-norm for Meenakshi

Another good news was the completion of a seven-game WGM-norm by S. Meenakshi. The India `B' captain won against Irina Ostry, just like Swati Ghate did against Alexandra Samaganova. Tania Sachdev's loss on the last board kept her team behind Vietnam. Tania's victory would have brightened her team's chances of finishing in the medal bracket since it is slated to play Bangladesh in the final round.

The results:

Men: Kazakhstan (19.5) beat India `A' (20) 2.5-1.5 (Darmen Sadvakasov drew with K. Sasikiran; Pavel Kotsur bt Surya Sekhar Ganguly; Petr Kostenko drew with P. Hari Krishna; Bakhtiyar Askarov drew with Abhijit Kunte).

China (21) beat Uzbekistan (16) 3.5-0.5 (Ye Jiangchuan bt Rustam Kasimdzhanov; Zhang Zhong bt Saidali Iuldachev; Xu Jun bt Shukhrat Safin; Zhang Pengxiang bt Tair Vakhidov).

India `C' (20) beat Kyrgyzstan (11) 3-1 (Neelotpal Das bt M. Turpanov; Sriram Jha drew with T. Imanaliev; Lanka Ravi bt A. Shukuraliev; Dinesh Sharma bt Aziz Umarbekov).

India `B' (19) beat Sri Lanka (8.5) 2.5-1.5 (Koneru Humpy bt G. L. Wijesuriya; Pravin Thipsay bt C. K. D. Fonseka; R. B. Ramesh lost to G. C. Anuruddha; Tejas Bakre drew with D. R. N. K. B. Dehigama).

Malaysia (2.5) beat Iran (1.5) 2.5-1.5 (Wong Zi Jing bt Ehsan Ghaem Maghami; Marcus Chan lost to Morteza Mahjoob; Nicholas Chan drew with Shojaat Ghane; Ismail Ahmed bt Arash Roghani).

Turkmenistan (8.5) beat Macau (4) 4-0 (Amanmurad Kakageldyev bt Soloman Celis; Meilis Annaberdiev bt Chang Hon Kun; Artek Ovezov bt Mak Keng Fei; Handszar Odeev bt Radolfo Abelgas).

Vietnam (18) bye.

Women: China (18.5) beat Bangladesh (8.5) 3-0 (Zhu Chen bt Rani Hamid; Xu Yuhua bt Zakia Sultana; Huang Qian bt Afroza Khanam).

Vietnam (16) drew with India `C' (14.5) 1.5-1.5 (Hoang Thanh Trang drew with Eesha Karavade; Nguyen Thi Thanhan drew with Anupama Gokhale; Vo Hong Phuong drew with Saimeera Ravi).

India `A' (17) beat Sri Lanka (3.5) 3-0 (S. Vijayalakshmi bt Vineetha Wijesuriya; Aarthie Ramaswamy bt Ayodhya Liyanagedara; Dronavalli Harika bt Thushari Mahawaththa).

India `B' (15.5) beat Kyrgyzstan (9) 2-1 (S. Meenakshi bt Irina Ostry; Swati Ghate bt Alexandra Samaganova; Tania Sachdev lost to Janyl Tilebaeva).

Kazakhstan (14.5) beat Malaysia (7) 3-0 (Maria Sergeeva bt Siti Zulaikha; A. Turebaeva bt Lim Han Ying; Son Aisa bt Haslindah Ruslan).

Iran (12) drew with Turkmenistan (8) 1.5-1.5 (Atousa Pourkashiyan lost to Maisa Ovezova; Shadi Paridar bt Bahar Hallaeva; Mahini Mona Salman drew with Aykamar Malkgulyewa).

Final round pairings:

Men: China (21) v Malaysia (16); Turkmenistan (18.5) v India `A' (20); Iran (16.5) v India `C' (20); Sri Lanka (8.5) v Kazakhstan (19.5); Vietnam (18) v Krygyzstan (11); Macau (4) v Uzbekistan (16); India `B' (19) bye.

Women: Turkmenistan (8) v China (18.5); Kazakhstan (14.5) v India `A' (17); Vietnam (16) v Malaysia (7); Bangladesh (8.5) v India `B' (15.5); India `C' (14.5) v Sri Lanka (3.5); Iran (12) v Kyrgyzstan (9).

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