India, Ukraine and the Netherlands edge ahead

India, Ukraine and the Netherlands remained the only unbeaten teams in the Open Section after 5 rounds at the 42nd Chess Olympiad currently under way in Baku, Azerbaijan. Ukraine downed defending champions China 2.5-1.5, while the Netherlands beat Belarus by the same margin. India, ranked 9th, defeated the strong Azerbaijan team 3-1. Grandmasters Harikrishna and Santhosh Vidit won their respective games with the black pieces while B. Adhiban and S.P. Sethuraman drew their games.
The Czech Republic, USA and Georgia are currently tied for the 4th place. Top seed Russia beat Egypt (3-1) to join 17 other teams that have a 4-1 win-loss record.

The Sri Lanka team, after losses in the first two rounds, built some momentum going into the second half of the tournament defeating higher ranked Panama 3.5-0.5. IM Romesh Weerawardena drew on Board One, while Akhila Kavinda, Yasas Lamawansa and skipper Rajeendra Kalugampitiya won their respective games. The men’s team will take on Madagascar in Round 6.

The tournament moves into the tougher second half after the off-day on Wednesday.

The Sri Lankan women’s team continued to fight ferociously doing extremely well to grab 1.5 points from the strong and experienced Norwegian team. Zainab Saumy won her game while Dasuni Mendis secured half a point. The performance was highly commendable considering that the top two boards lost their games relatively early.

Ukraine and Russia, seeded 2nd and 3rd respectively, are the only unbeaten teams in the Women’s Section after 5 rounds. They are followed by top seed China and 11th seed Rumania, both teams having drawn one match each. Ukraine beat Serbia (3-1) and Russia beat Kazakhstan (3.5-0.5).

Malinda Seneviratne reporting from Baku

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