India enjoyed an unbeaten day with a win and two draws to move up to fourth place after six rounds in the Asian Online Nations (Regions) Cup Team Championship for men on Friday.
The top-seeded Indians, who were sixth after three rounds, were held to a 2-2 draw by a strong Kazakhstan team, seeded second, in the sixth round after having shared points with Iran in round four before beating Jordan 3.5-0.5.
In the India-Kazakhstan match, the talented 16-year-old Nihal Sarin and the experienced K Sasikiran scored wins over Rustam Khusnutdiov and Denis Makhnev respectively. B Adhiban and captain Surya Shekhar Ganguly lost their games.
Sasikiran has been a top performer for India, having won all his six matches so far while Ganguly has four victories from five games.
After the conclusion of six rounds, India is on nine match points (two points for winning a match and one for a draw). The team has so far won three matches and drawn three. The country’s top two players — former world champion Viswanathan Anand and Vidit Gujrathi — are not part of the squad.
After being forced to share points by Indonesia, the Indians bounced back strongly to thrash Jordan 3.5-0.5 with Sarin, captain Ganguly and Sasikiran posting victories. Sameer Mansour held B Adhiban to a draw to prevent an Indian sweep.
In the match against Indonesia, Adhiban drew on top board against Yoseph Theolifus Taher while Sarin and Susanto Megaranto shared honours. Sasikiran posted India’s only win, beating Muhammad Agus Kurniawan while S P Sethuraman slipped to defeat against Novendra Priasmoro from a good position as the teams settled for the 2-2 result.
Iran leads the field with 11 match points with Australia and Kazakhstan in second and third place with 10 match points each.
The tournament is being played on nine-round Swiss System preliminaries in both men’s and women’s division with a time control of 15 minutes plus 5 second increment.
The top eight teams will qualify for the knockout stage of quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. Each stage will be a duel of two matches. Cash prizes worth USD 20,000 and gold, silver and bronze certificates as individual board prizes in the preliminary stage are up for grabs.
The women’s event resumes on Saturday for rounds four to six with the top-seeded Indians in eighth spot.
The tournament will conclude with the finals on October 25.