Mahabalipuram, Aug 9: Chess is tough, and the life of a professional player even more so. Maintaining your emotional stability throughout a tournament can be very testing and things can change rapidly from one day to the next.
The match between the youth teams of India B and Uzbekistan was 2-1 for India B, thanks to Praggnanandhaa's great win over Sindarov. Only Gukesh's game remained: he was playing White against Abdusattorov.
The youngster, with a cumulative score of 8.5 out of 9, had a decisive advantage, but a one-off mistake suddenly made the game a draw. Nonetheless, with this result, India B would have won the match, practically securing a medal. But he continued to play for the win, the game got tricky, and he made a mistake under pressure, going down in defeat.
The final 2-2 result will have tasted heavenly to the Uzbeks, who maintain the first position and have everything in their favor to fight for gold in the last round.
The tie allowed Armenia to bounce back from yesterday's loss with a big win over neighbor country Azerbaijan by 3-1, permitting them to tie for first place with Uzbekistan.
Robert Hovhannisyan on board 4 and especially Gabriel Sargissian on board 1 were the heroes of the team - on paper, Mamedyarov's five is stronger.
However, Armenia has always had a "secret", which Sargissian revealed to FIDE in the postgame short interview.
"Even without Radjabov, Azerbaijan is a very strong team, but Mamedyarov made a mistake in the opening, and we always had the match under control. We never expected this, especially without having Levon Aronian on the team, so, for us already, this is a great result. We are all very good friends, and maybe this gives us an advantage: maybe there are some teams that don't have a good atmosphere," were Sargissian's thoughts immediately after defeating Mamedyarov.
Although the United States is having a relatively poor Olympiad - only Wesley So is performing to expectation on board three - two consecutive wins have allowed them to climb the standings. In fact, a win in the last round could even stand for an unexpected medal.
This afternoon Fabiano Caruana and Leinier Dominguez stepped up, leading their team to victory over Turkey by 3-1. We were lucky enough to catch Dominguez for a brief postgame interview: we wanted to know what was happening in the team.
"It's my first time in India but I am very happy to be here. The fans are incredible. When you have several players out of shape it's very difficult to perform well as a team" Dominguez explained.
India A scored the crucial win against Iran at the last moment, and will join the group trailing the leaders. Harikrishna lost against Maghsoodloo on board one but Vidit notched up his second win on board two against Tabatabaei to level the match.
At the last moment, Narayanan broke down his opponents' fortress, for an overall 2.5-1.5.
The pairings for the last round leave everything to play for, as most of the top teams have already faced each other. Leaders Armenia (17) and Uzbekistan (17) drop down to face Spain (15) and Netherlands (15).
Both of these encounters will be very exciting - both the Spaniards and the Dutch are rating favorites.
India (16) will battle it out with USA (16) - the winner will likely get a medal, even gold! Finally, India B (16) will play against Germany (15), to try and finish off the tournament at the top of the board.
As a side note, re-elected FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich held a press conference this afternoon in the venue, before a packed room with more than 100 journalists and press cameras. "Yesterday, the delegates showed their full trust in what we have been doing throughout this period, and the trust in what we can do during the next four years" was Dvorkovich's opening statement, seated next to his new Deputy President Vishy Anand and Vice President Joran Aulin-Jansson.