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FIDE Online Chess Olympiad | India joins Hungary at top of the table

Vaishali does the star turn in the sixth round

Holding her nerve when it mattered, R. Vaishali pulled off a sensational draw against her Belarus rival to complete India’s third win of the day for a share of the lead after six rounds of the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad on Thursday.

With three rounds to go, India and Hungary (11 match-points each) led the 10-nation Group B of the top section.

India scored over Shenzhen China (5-1), second seed Azerbaijan (4-2) and Belarus (3.5-2.5) while overnight leader Hungary posted narrow 3.5-2.5 victories over Egypt and France but in between, drew 3-3 with Belarus. This drawn encounter helped India catch up with Hungary after the fifth round.

These leaders, likely quarterfinalists from this group, clash in the seventh round on Friday.

Struggle

Fresh from beating Azerbaijan, with the victorious duo of K. Humpy and Nihal Sarin providing the decisive difference, India struggled to beat ninth-placed Belarus.

Spearhead Viswanathan Anand shut out 48-year-old Aleksej Aleksandrov in just 23 moves and Bhakti Kulkarni doubled the lead. Tania Sachdev drew but R. Praggnanandhaa suffered his second loss in as many days.

At this point, Vidit Gujrathi and Vaishali were fighting inferior positions. Fortunately, Vidit found a way to draw and that left the Indian hopes resting on Vaishali, who was down a bishop in the endgame. However, with only seconds remaining on the clock, Vaishali’s rival Khanim Balajayeva missed the winning continuation and the resultant draw in 80 moves brought tremendous cheer to the Indian camp.

The results: Sixth round: Belarus lost to India 2.5-3.5 (Aleksej Aleksandrov lost to Viswanathan Anand, Alexei Fedorov drew with Vidit Gujrathi, Aliaksandra Tarasenka drew with Tania Sachdev, Kseniya Norman lost to Bhakti Kulkarni, Denis Lazavik bt R. Praggnanandhaa, Kseniya Zeliantsova drew with R. Vaishali); Hungary bt France 3.5-2.5; Azerbaijan bt Moldova 5-1; Shenzhen China lost to Slovenia 2.5-3.5; Sweden bt Egypt 5.5-0.5.

Fifth round: India bt Azerbaijan 4-2 (Anand drew with Teimour Radjabov, Vidit drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, K. Humpy bt Gunay Mammadzada, D. Harika drew with Gulnar Mammadova, Nihal Sarin bt Vugar Asadli, Vaishali drew with Khanim Balajayeva); Belarus drew with Hungary 3-3; Moldova lost to Shenzhen China 0.5-5.5; Slovenia bt Sweden 4-2; Egypt lost to France 1.5-4.5.

Fourth round: Shenzhen China lost to India 1-5 (Zeng Chongsheng lost to P. Harikrishna, Yu Ruiyuan lost to B. Adhiban, Zhao Xue bt Humpy, Xu Tong lost to Bhakti, Xue Haowen lost to Nihal, Li Xinyu lost to Vaishali); Hungary bt Egypt 3.5-2.5; Azerbaijan bt Belarus 3.5-2.5; France bt Slovenia 3.5-2.5; Sweden bt Moldova 4-1.

Standings (after six rounds): 1-2. India, Hungary (11 match-points each), 3. France (8), 4. Azerbaijan (7), 5-6. Sweden, Slovenia (6 each), 7. Moldova (4), 8-9. Shenzhen China, Belarus (4 each), 10. Egypt (1).

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