Khanty Mansiysk (Russia)(PTI): The Indian men will have their task cut out when they take on a spirited Turkey in the sixth round of the World Team Chess Championship here.
Riding high on some brilliant performances coming from Grandmaster B Adhiban, a sterner test awaits India in the last four rounds and if they can keep up the momentum, a podium finish looks very much on cards.
After the first five rounds of this 10-team round-robin event, Russia lead the tables with nine out of a possible 10 while China and Poland follow a full point behind.
Beating Turkey is important for the Indian men as they are currently fourth on seven points, a full point ahead of India. The other two fancied teams Ukraine and Russia are – virtually out of the race with just four points thus far.
It was a bad start for India as they lost to Poland and China in the first two rounds. Thereafter, the team has seen an amazing resurgence as it beat Belarus, United States and Egypt in the next rounds. After the match against Turkey, the team still has a tough task ahead as it is yet to play with Russia and Ukraine.
In the women’s championship being organised simultaneously, the Indians are on the third spot and need an inspired performance to even win the championship. Russia and Ukraine share the lead here on eight points apiece while the Indian team has seven points for a sole third spot.
The next match will be crucial when they meet Russia and a good result can be pivotal in providing the lucky breakthrough. Besides Russia, they still have to meet China, Vietnam and Azerbaijan tough draw for the last four rounds.
At the top of the tables, Vidit Gujarathi has provided the solidity as he has looked invincible coming out with some great games. Adhiban, on the second board has played his role to perfection going after everyone in his typical uncompromising style.
As a senior member of the team, Krishnan Sasikiran has been holding his front and he could be the key man for the team in the last four rounds while Parimarjan Negi has not shown any signs of rustiness despite being away from the game for a while.
National Champion Murali Karthikeyan will probably get to play maximum one game out of the remaining four.
For the Indian women, if the loss against Ukraine was a bit painful, the recovery against Poland was equally sweet. What remains to be seen is how they do against Russia and China, the two most powerful teams of the world.
Harika Dronavalli will need to recover quickly from her previous round loss against Wafa Shrook and get all the support from Tania Sachdev, Eesha Karavade, Padmini Rout and S Vijayalakshmi on other three boards. For the medal, Harika will be the key, if she can topple the Chinese and the Russian the tide will turn in India’s favour quickly