India's medal hopes diminish

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> International Master Surya Shekhar Ganguly moved a step closer to his final Grandmaster norm even as his team failed to get past 33rd seed Macedonia and settled

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Bled, Slovenia:

International Master Surya Shekhar Ganguly moved a step closer to his final Grandmaster norm even as his team failed to get past 33rd seed Macedonia and settled for a 2-2 draw in the 11th round of the 35th Chess Olympiad. Indian women though brought some cheer to the camp as they held seventh seed Yugoslavia. But hopes for a medal slowly diminished for the Indian teams with only three more rounds remaining in this 14-round competition. With 26 points, the men's team was placed at joint 17th position while the women's team with 19 points was placed 11th. The race for the title heated up, with top-seeded Russia putting it across Germany 3.5-0.5 to widen its lead by two points over second seed Hungary. The world's highest rated player, Garry Kasparov, led from the front and defeated German Christopher Lutz in a Sicilian Scheveningen with black pieces. Hungary remained in sole second position on 30 points by defeating England 2.5-1.5, while Germany was a distant third on 28 points. The title race in the women's section sprang back to life as Poland defeated leaders Georgia by an incredible 2.5-0.5 margin. Despite the loss, Georgia (24.5) maintained its position atop the tables but the lead margin receded to just a half point as China (24) scored a 2.5-0.5 victory over Romania in this round. Russia were third on 22.5 points. Former world junior champion Kiril Georgiev added to the woes of Grandmaster Pentyala Harikrishna who has failed to find his rhythm here. Playing white on the top board, Harikrishna faced the Bogo Indian defence, but the middle game structure took shape in an isolated queen pawn for Georgiev, who gave a sample display on how to work this weakness into an advantage. Harikrishna was saddled with a few weaknesses on the king side and his misplaced pieces did not help the cause. With deft manoeuvres, Georgiev won a pawn on the queen side and cruised to victory in 55 moves. On the second board, Surya Shekhar Ganguly came within striking distance of what would be his third and final GM norm after drawing with Vladimir Georgiev. Playing black, Ganguly stuck to his Queen's Gambit accepted and his deep knowledge of the opening gave him an easy equality right in the middle game. The queens were off the board in quick time and Ganguly managed some advantage in the form of his better-placed pieces. However, Georgiev got the level position in the ensuing knight endgame where both players promoted their pawns to glory. The draw was agreed to in 59 moves. On the third board GM Abhijit Kunte failed to make the most of a little advantage against Nikola Mitkov and settled for peace in a long drawn encounter lasting 87 moves. The equaliser for India was scored by IM R B Ramesh on the fourth board as he outmanoeuvred Trajce Nedev, who played white. The opening was a Sicilian Rossolimo attack and Ramesh had to part with a pawn in the middle game to activate his pieces. Nedev fell under pressure once Ramesh got on top and did not play the precise defence. Ramesh won in 38 moves. S Vijayalakshmi raised hopes of an individual medal with a fine victory over Natasa Bojkovic on the top board. Sitting behind the black pieces, Vijayalakshmi faced an irregular opening and had little trouble in attaining equality. The game took a decisive turn in the middle game as the Indian decided to force a result with penetration of pieces. Bojkovic was simply outplayed in the end. On the second board, Aarthi Ramaswamy drew a quick game against Svetlana Prudnikova while on the third, Swati Ghate went down to Irina Chelushkina. (PTI)

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