Ningbo (China): The Indian men went down to leaders Armenia by a minimal 1.5-2.5 margin in the sixth round of World team Chess Championship at Ningbo on Sunday.

A game-changing novelty by Levon Aronian on the top board against P Harikrishna paved the way for the Armenians to go ahead and while the Indians did well to hold on the remaining boards, the lone victory gave them another two points.

In the process, the Armenians also stretched their lead to two points after nearest rivals Russia and Hungary were held to draws by Ukraine and United States respectively.

Apart from Armenia, hosts China were the only other winners as the match between Israel and Azerbaijan also ended in a 2-2 draw. China trounced Egypt 3.5-0.5 to come back in medal contention.

With Armenia on ten points out of a possible 12, Russia and Hungary are still close behind on eight points apiece and it seems that the battle for the gold is only between these three teams.

Ukraine and China share the fourth spot on seven points each while Azerbaijan and United States have six points for a shared sixth spot.

Israel is on five points while Indians remained on three points after the debacle against Armenia. Egypt is still to open their account.

While the Indian hopes for a medal were blown away, the spectators around the world were full praise for Levon Aronian who produced a remarkable new idea to combat Harikrishna.

The Lasker variation in the Queens gambit declined had given Viswanathan Anand a victory as black in the last game of the 2010 world championship and Harikrishna went for the same in which Aronian had a spectacular home-cooked idea on the tenth move.

Harikrishna tried to play logical moves in his next few turns but they did nto turn out to be good enough as Aronian had probably seen deeper at home. The Indian gave a pawn to reach a worse endgame wherein Aronian's technique was immaculate.

Sasikiran tried to put some pressure on Sergei Movsesian on the second board but the latter wriggled out with black pieces.

On the third board Surya Shekhar Ganguly held on to his own to split the point with Vladimir Akopian while Parimarjan Negi could not make much use of an optically better endgame against Gabriel Sargissian.

Complete results round 7 (team points in bracket):

Russia (8) drew with Ukraine (7) 2-2. Seregy Karjakin drew with Vassily Ivanchuk; Pavel Eljanov drew with Alexander Grischuk; Ian Nepomniachtchi drew with Zahar Efimenko; Alexander Moiseenko drew with Nikita Vitiugov.

Israel (5) drew with Azerbaijan (6) Emil Sutovsky lost to Teimour Radjabov; Vugar Gashimov drew with Ilya Smirin; Evgeny Postny beat Rauf Mamedov; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew with Tamir Nabaty.

USA (6) drew with Hungary (8) Gata Kamsky drew with Peter Leko; Zoltan Almasi beat Yuri Shulman; Yasser Seirawan beat Judit Polgar; Csaba Balogh drew with Robert Hess.

Armenia (10) beat India (3) 2.5-1.5. Levon Aronian beat P Harikrishna; Krishnan Sasikiran drew with Sergei Movsesian; Vladimir Akopian drew with Surya Shekhar Ganguly;

Parimarjan Negi drew with Gabriel Sargissian. Egypt (0) lost to China 0.5-3.5. Ahmed Adly lost to Wang Hao; Wang Yue beat Amin Bassem; Samy Shoker drew with Li Chao; Ding Liren beat Ezat Mohamed.

(Agencies)