Ningbo (China): Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran survived some anxious moments before eventually defeating Zoltan Almasi to help India salvage a 2-2 draw with Hungary in the first round of the World Team Chess Championship that got underway.

Much before Sasikiran's hard-earned victory, P Harikrishna did well to hold highly regarded Peter Leko on the top board while GN Gopal split the point with Csaba Balogh on the fourth, but Surya Shekhar Ganguly went down to world's best woman player Judit Polgar to give Hungary the lead which forced Sasikiran to play for a victory with black pieces.

Meanwhile Armenia emerged as the early leader in world's premier team championship giving Israel a 3.5-0.5 drubbing.

Without their star player Boris Gelfand, Israeli team lacked sting and Levon Aronian led from the front at the expense of Emil Sutovsky in this white wash.

The United States went down to Russia 1-3 losing with black pieces on second and fourth board while lowest rank Egypt sprang a surprise knocking down 1.5 points off Ukraine.

The other match in the 10-teams round-robin event was a 2-2 draw between China and Azerbaijan.

Sasikiran had reasons to be worried in the middle game after Almasi seized the initiative out of a Breyer variation in the Ruy Lopez. It was a typical middle game with white striving for a king side attack but Sasikiran did well to stay in the game after complicating matters a great deal.

Almasi was on top for quite some time but let the game slip out of hand gradually after being an exchange up.

Earlier Harikrishna played his pet Ctalan opening as white and apparently had a slight edge in the ensuing endgame against Peter Leko. Subsequent exchanges led to further simplifications and Harikrishna liquidated to a drawn rook endgame with three pawns on the same flank.

Judit Polgar turned out to be a tough opponent for Ganguly in the Sicilian defense wherein the former played black. Ganguly could not prove an advantage and was slowly saddled with a passive position but did well to stay in the game creating some problems on the king side.

It was in the late stages of the middle game when the Indian faltered and allowed Judit a strong king side attack that proved decisive.

GN Gopal was the preferred choice for India ahead of national champion Parimarjan Negi and he did not disappoint, drawing a fine game against Csaba Balogh. Interestingly, all Hungarian opponents were higher ranked than Indians who had won the Bronze medal in the last edition at Turkey.

Results round 1: USA lost to Russia 1-3. Gata Kamsky drew with Sergey Karjakin; Ian Nepomniachtchi beat Alexander Onischuk; Yuri Shulman drew with Peter Svidler Nikita Vitiugov beat Robert Hess; Armenia beat Israel 3.5-1.5. Levon Aronian beat Emil Sutovsky; Michael Roiz drew with Sergei Movsesian; Vladimir Akopian beat Evgeny Postny; Tamir Nabaty lost to Gabriel Sargissian; Egypt lost to Ukraine 1.5-2.5.Ahmed Adly lost to Vassily Ivanchuk; Zahar Efimenkov drew with Amin Bassem; El Gindy Essam lost to Alexander Moiseenko; Samy Shoker beat Alexander Areshchenko; China drew with Azerbaijan 2-2; Wang Hao drew with Teimour Radjabov; Vugar Gashimov lost to Wang Yue; Li Chao drew with Rauf Mamedov; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov beat Yu Yangyi; India drew with Hungary 2-2. P Harikrishna drew with Peter Leko; Zoltan Almasi lost to Krishnan Sasikiran; Surya Shekhar Ganguly lost to Judit Polgar; Csaba Balogh drew with G N Gopal.

(Agencies)