Six Indian teams at 44th Chess Olympiad

 Harpal Singh Bedi

Chennai:  Six Indian teams,  a good mix of 30 experienced elite players, dashing debutants and promising prodigies,  are all set to begin their challenge at the 44th edition of the Chess Olympiad, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mamallapuram, Chennai on Thursday.

It is also India’s largest contingent ever taking part at the Olympiad, which is being hosted in India for the first-time ever.

The 14-day long Chess Olympiad has 187 countries registered, a world record in terms of the number of participating countries. It will conclude on 10th August

The top Indian team, comprising Vidit Gujrathi, Pentala Harikrishna, Arjun Erigaisi, SL Narayanan and Krishnan Sasikiran, has experience and strength combined. Arjun and Narayanan are making their debut. Arjun has been hovering tantalisingly close to the Elo 2700 mark and Narayanan exhibits an enviable positional and solid style. Harikrishna and Sasikiran are old warhorses with proven credentials while Vidit, too, has made a mark amongst the elites.

The star-studded US team-led by World Championship challenger Fabiano Caruana is numbers ahead in terms of average rating with Elo 2771 while India seeded second with Elo 2696.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen’s Team Norway is third seeded at Elo 2692 followed by Spain (Elo 2687), Poland (Elo 2683) and Azerbaijan (Elo 2680).

The Team India 2 boast of teenage prodigies Nihal Sarin, D Gukesh, R Praggnanandhaa, Raunak Sadhwani and also has 30-year-old B Adhiban as the oldest player. It has caught the imagination and fancy of most enthusiasts, not just in India but abroad too. 
The average Elo of this team is 2649 but their ability to score over fancied opponents in the past six months place them as strong contenders for the medal.

The women’s team with Koneru Humpy, D Harika, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni are given top billing with an average Elo of 2487 and are firm favourites. Ukraine (2478) and Georgia (2475), on the other hand, are too close for comfort and India need good performances each day to gun for gold.

The other Indian teams too have the potential to notch upsets and with no pressure, they have the ability to snatch a medal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.