By Vishal Sareen
The Indian men team lost 1-3 to higher ranked China but won many hearts as the scoreline hardly suggested how close it was in the summit clash that ended at Liao Cheng in Shan Dong province.
After a fine start that gave them a 2.5-1.5 victory the Indian men lost the next three matches by 1-3, 1.5-2.5 and 1-3 respectively and the Chinese deserved all credit for a fine performance coming through grit, determination and perseverance on all boards.
When the Indian men attacked, the Chinese defended with resourcefulness and when the Indian defences looked good they pursued relentlessly.
It was clear from the beginning that it would depend mostly on Surya Shekhar Ganguly and S P Sethuraman if the Indians had to do well. Abhijeet Gupta has been going through a rough patch recently while Murali Karthikeyan, who famously scripted an Indian victory on day one, was the lowest rated player in the event.
Ganguly led from the front in almost all games. His score of 1.5/4 hardly indicated the actual level of games he displayed. While he fell prey to some outstanding defense by Bu Xiangzhi in the first game, it was a clearly winning game against Wei Yi in the second game that Ganguly drew.
The worst was not over yet for Ganguly unfortunately, after comprehensively outplaying and attaining a dead-winning position against Lu Shanglei in the third game he blundered again and went on to lose. A final draw with black against Zhao Jianchao left him win-less in the event, but it could have been a different story…
Sethuraman struggled in the first game against Wei Yi and was nearly lost in the second against Bu XIangzhi. He survived them both and then beat Jianchao in what was a quick disposal. In his final game the Chennai-based took a draw with 2.5-1.5 and emerged as the best among Indians.
Abhijeet Gupta started with a draw with Shanglei and then lost to Jianchao, Xinagzhi and finally Wei Yi. In the last round he clearly over stretched as the team needed a win.
Murali Karthikeyan started with a brilliant win against Jianchao but lost his way in the next two losing to Shanglei and Wei Yi respectively. He played a solid game to hold Xiangzhi in the last round.
The Indian team won USD 7200 (USD 5760 net after taxes) while the Chinese men got USD 10800 for their effort. In addition all four members of the Indian team were given USD 800 each towards appearance money.
Final score by Indians:
1. Surya Shekhar Ganguly – 1.5/4
2. S P Sethuraman – 2.5/4
3. Abhijeet Gupta 0.5/4
4. Murali Karthikeyan 1.5/4