Led by Indian ace Koneru Humpy, top-seeded Indian eves won their sixth straight match, defeating former champions Georgia in the sixth round of the 44th chess Olympiad by a score of 3-1 here at the Four Points by Sheraton.
The early indications gave an even fight between the two teams, but Vaishali R (pictured above), playing on the third board, proved to be the key factor as she cruised to a fine victory at the expense of experienced International Master Lela Javakhishvili of Georgia.
The Berlin Defence of Ruy Lopez has a solid reputation, but on this day, Vaishali was well-prepared to punish it. The symmetrical set-up by the Indian gave her a slight but long-lasting advantage in the middle game, and the Georgian felt the heat as her pieces gasped for breath. Finding some solace in an exchange that cost her two pieces for a rook, Javakhishvili fought on, but Vaishali was relentless and romped home in 36 moves.
Grandmaster D Harika played out an easy draw with Nino Batsiashvili on the second board. The mother-to-be Indian kept things under check right from the word go with black pieces, and routine exchange of pieces led to a drawn rook and pawns endgame where neither player had any hesitation in signing the peace treaty.
On the top board, Indian ace Koneru Humpy facing Nana Dzagnidze, had things under control, and the consistent threat of pawn promotion from the advanced passer on the queenside forced the Georgian to resign on the move 42.
On board four, Tania Sachdev held her forte quite nicely against Salome Melia, and a draw was agreed on the 35th move. This critical match victory will bolster Indian chances as their confidence in the rounds to come.
On the second table, Romania held mighty Ukraine to a 2-2 score and remains in the hunt for a podium finish.
Irina Bulmaga facing a former women’s world champion GM Mariya Muzychuk played innovative and fearless attacking chess from the get-go. Irina sacrificed an exchange to break through the centre on move 27 and got winning chances in the ensuing ending. Mariya had to summon all her defensive skills to draw the inferior ending.
Mihaela Sandu faced the elder of the Muzychuk sisters on the second board. Anna, only the fourth woman in chess history to attain a FIDE rating over 2600, played an aggressive game pushing pawns on the kingside from the white side in a Ruy Lopez and forced resignation before the first time control. Two other games in this tense match were drawn.
In a high stake clash, top teams Azerbaijan defeated Kazakhstan thanks to the victories on boards three and four.
On the third board, Gulnar Mammodova came out on top against Xeniya Balabayeva in a complex French Defence encounter in which Black had a clearly better position in the middlegame. On the fourth board, Ulviyyan Fataliyeva outwitted Nakhbayeva Guliskhan to hand the match 3-1 to Azerbaijan.
With five rounds still to come in the biggest chess extravaganza on the planet India A on 12 match points, has a full point lead over Romania and Azerbaijan, sitting on 11 match points. The battle resumes after the only rest day that will be preceded by the famous Bermuda party for the players and enthusiasts on late Wednesday night.
The complete results for Round 6 can be found at the official website for the Olympiad, https://chessolympiad.fide.com/women-results.
Standings after Round 6 can be found at https://chessolympiad.fide.com/women-standings.
Photo: Photo: Lennart Ootes, Mark Livshitz and Stev Bonhage