A day of sensational drama produced some thrilling action, with some late strikes changing the projected results on its head.
For instance, India 1 needed late strikes from Tania Sachdev and R. Vaishali to more than nullify the defeat of K. Humpy in a thrilling match against sixth seed Azerbaijan.
In the Open section, after the USA twice took the lead against Armenia through Wesley So and Dominguez Perez while Gabriel Sargissian made it 1-1 by upstaging Fabiano Caruana, all eyes were on the fourth board.
USA was staring at the prospect of dropping its second draw of the week, when Sam Shankland seemingly recovered enough against Robert Hoyhannisyan to take the team closer to a match-winning draw. But that was not to be.
Amid mounting tension, Shankland moved his king assuming a check that wasn’t. The American realised his mistake and kept his king on the square from where he had picked it. He wanted to block the ensuing threat with his queen but he had no choice. Since he had touched his king intentionally, he could not play the queen. A shaken Shankland saw only one square for the king, leading to a loss, and extended his hand in resignation.
The match ended 2-2 and Armenia stayed in the lead at 13 points, one ahead of USA and India among others.
On Saturday, India 1 faces Armenia and India 2 takes on USA. Among the women, India 1 faces Ukraine in the key battle of the top-two seeds.
In what was the first-ever clash involving Indians teams in an Olympiad, Arjun Erigaisi and S. L. Narayanan struck on the lower boards for India 1 to push India 3 down the slope. While a seventh win for D. Gukesh was the highpoint of an expected victory for India 2 against Cuba, the all-India clash produced some intense action.
After P. Harikrishna once again showed how well prepared in the opening phase against Surya Shekhar Ganguly in their drawn game, Narayanan scored over Abhimanyu Puranik on Board 4. The Kerala-player played to his rating superiority against his younger rival.
Vidit Gujrathi was again involved in a draw, but Arjun Erigaisi continued the sequence of winning every odd-numbered round, on this day against Abhijeet Gupta.
The Results (with match-points):
Open: India 1 (12) bt India 3 (10) 3-1 (P. Harikrishna drew with Surya Shekhar Ganguly; Vidit Gujrathi drew with S. P. Sethuraman; Arjun Erigaisi bt Abhijeet Gupta; S. L. Narayanan bt Abhimanyu Puranik).
Cuba (10) lost to India 2 (12) 0.5-3.5 (Carlos Daniel Albornoz Cabrera lost to D. Gukesh; Luis Ernesto Quusada Perez lost to Nihal Sarin; Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Saurez lost to R. Praggnanandhaa; Omar Almeida Quintana drew with B. Adhiban).
Armenia (13) drew with USA (12) 2-2 (Gabriel Sargissian bt Fabiano Caruana; Hrant Melkumyan lost to Wesley So; Samvel Ter-Sahakyan lost to Leinier Perez Dominguez; Robert Hovhannisyan bt Sam Shankland).
France (11) drew with Netherlands (11) 2-2; Serbia (10) lost to Germany (12) 1.5-2.5; Peru (10) lost to Uzbekisthan (12) 0-4; Spain (9) lost to Kazakhstan (12) 1.5-2.5; Azerbaijan (11) bt Israel (9) 3-1; Greece (10) drew with Ukraine (10) 2-2; Brazil (11) bt England (9) 2.5-1.5.
Women: Azerbaijan (11) lost to India 1 (14) 1.5-2.5 (Gunay Mammdzada bt K. Humpy; Khanim Balajayeva drew with D. Harika; Govhar Beydullayeva lost to R. Vaishali; Ulviyya Fataliyeva lost to Tania Sachdev).
India 2 (9) lost to Greece (11) 1.5-2.5 (Vantika Agrawal lost to Stavroula Tsolakidou; Soumya Swaminathan lost to Anastastia Avramidou; Mary Ann Gomes drew with Ekaterini Pavlidou; Divya Deshmukh bt Hartomeni Markantonaki).
India 3 (11) bt Switzerland (9) 3-1 (Eesha Karavade bt Lena Georgescu; P. V. Nandhidhaa bt Ghazal Hakimifard; Pratyusha Bodda drew with Gundula Heinatz; Vishwa Vasnawala drew with Laura Stoeri).
Georgia (12) bt Romania (11) 2.5-1.5; Ukraine (12) bt Netherlands (10) 3.5-0.5; Poland (11) drew with Bulgaria (11) 2-2; Armenia (12) bt Israel (10) 2.5-1.5; Kazakhstan (11) bt Vietnam (10) 2.5-1.5.