*Photo credit to FIDE/Lennart Ootes & Stev Bonhage

Tania Sachdev and R.Vaishali chalked out hard-fought victories to enable the Indian women's A team beat sixth seed Azerbaijan with a 2.5-1.5 for their seventh successive win to maintain their sole lead in 14 points at the 44th Chess Olympiad here on  Friday.

The hosts suffered a few hiccups after Humpy ended on the losing side in the first game. However, Tania Sachdev and R Vaishali once again rose to the occasion magnificently by scoring tough victories while Harika Dronavalli also battled hard to split the point.

Vaishali played splendidly in a drawn position, pressurizing her opponent with precise positive play and finally scoring a delightful victory.

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Vaishali later commented: “Till the 40th turn, my game was dead equal and I considered settling for a draw. After Humpy’s loss, I had to keep pressing and interestingly, this was one position which we had worked in the camp with Boris Gelfand and I followed his suggestions to the ‘T’."

"The way Harika, Vaishali and Tania continued in this pressure situation is very heartening.  The players understand the situation perfectly and deliver," Team captain Abhijit Kunte said.

Meanwhile, in the open section, India A hit the accelerator when it mattered, defeating fellow countrymen in India C with a 3-1 score.

Arjun Erigaisi defeated Abhijit Gupta and S L Narayanan outplayed Abhimany Puranik even while Pnetala Harikrishna was held to a draw by Surya Shekhar Ganguly and SP Sethuraman forced Vidit to split the point.

India B, after a loss to Armenia in the 6th round, bounced back with a 3.5-0.5 score against Cuba with D Gukesh leading from the front once again to notch his seventh successive victory in the tournament.

Nihal Sarin and R Praggnanandhaa too made merry with two fine victories while Adhiban B was held to a draw.

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In another setback for the star-studded USA Team, Armenia held them to a 2-2 draw and continued their sole vigil at the top of the points tally with 13 points. India A and India B, USA, and Uzbekistan are trailing behind with 12 points each. 

India B in the women's section lost to Greece 1.5-2.5.  Divya Deshmukh scored the lone victory for India while Vantika Agrawal and Soumya Swaminathan lost their encounters and Mary Ann Gomes had to stay content with a draw.

India Women C team defeated Switzerland 3-1. 


HSB

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