Chess Olympiad fever peaks here with Indian teams appearing set for glory in the 44th edition of the prestigious event which begins on Thursday.
In the absence of powerhouses Russia and China, India will field three teams each in the Open and Women’s sections respectively.
If the five-time world champion and legendary Viswanathan Anand chose not to play and to endorse this time the hat of mentor, the Indian teams do not look less formidable.
India’s ‘A’ team, seeded second behind USA, are likely to be among the top contenders with Norway led by Carlsen and Azerbaijan. The young Indian “B” team coached by RB Ramesh, is ranked 11th and can be counted among the dark horses.
The next edition, which drew a record 188 teams in the Open section and 162 in the women’s section, would also see six Indian teams in the fray. India. as host, could field two teams and was able to field an additional team in each section as the number of entries was odd.
The absence of Russia and China weakens the field but gives other nations an opportunity to aim for glory. For example, the Americans boast a line-up that includes Fabio Caruana, Wesley So, Levon Aronian, Sam Shankland, and Leinier Dominguez with an average ELO rating of 2771 and should be considered the heavy favorite simply based on the Gulf (in average score). However, in a team event, especially the Olympiad, teamwork is also essential apart from the form of the players. India, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 Open in Tromso, Norway, won gold with Russia at the 2020 Online Olympiad and clinched a bronze medal at the 2014 edition. 2021. The upcoming edition offers a huge opportunity for Indians to claim the yellow metal in the over-the-board edition.
While India ‘A’, the No. 2 seed, would consider themselves within the scope of a medal, the ‘B’ teams of talented youngsters – D Gukesh and R Praggnanandhaa – as well as Nihal Sarin, Raunak Sadhwani and experienced B Adhiban can beat stronger teams, according to coach Ramesh. Being a long event, he feels players need to find ways to stay motivated throughout the 11 rounds, which would be crucial in the final analysis.
Reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen also praised the Indian players and felt the teams could be in contention for medals.
India’s ‘A’ team includes seasoned P Harikrishna and speedy Arjun Erigaisi, Vidit Gujrathi, who was captain when the country shared gold with Russia at the 2020 Online Olympiad, veterans K Sasikiran and SL Narayanan. The 17th-seeded ‘C’ team have a mix of experience and youth and with Surya Shekhar Ganguly at the forefront, we can expect some upsets.
India’s ‘A’ team is the top seed in the women’s event and will go for gold with experienced Koneru Humpy and D Harika in the ranks. Apart from the seasoned duo, R Vaishali and Bhakti Kulkarni who are improving rapidly further strengthen the team.
The other two Indian teams could also create surprises.
The challenge for India A could come from countries such as Ukraine, Georgia and Kazakhstan, ranked second through fourth respectively. Indian teams: Open: A: Vidit S Gujrathi, P Harikrishna, Arjun Erigaisi, SL Narayanan, K Sasikiran.
B: Nihal Sarin, D Gukesh, R Praggnanandhaa, B Adhiban, Raunak Sadhwani.
C: Surya Shekhar Ganguly, SP Sethuraman, Abhijeet Gupta, Karthikeyan Murali, Abhimanyu Puranik.
Women: A: Koneru Humpy, D Harika, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev, Bhakti Kulkarni.
B: Vantika Agarwal, Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes, Padmini Rout, Divya Deshmukh.
C: Sasha Karvade, Sahithi Varshini. Pratyusha Bodda, PV Nandhidhaa, Vishwa Vasnawala.
Factbox ===== Why do they play: Open section winner: Hamilton-Russel Cup Women’s section winner: Vera Menchik Cup 1st place in combined ranking: Nona Gaprindashvili Trophy Number of teams: Open: 188 Women: 162 Format: All Chess Olympiad matches will be played in the classic Swiss League format.
Location: Four Points by Sheraton, Mamallapuram (located approximately 58 km from Chennai).
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