Harpal Singh Bedi
Mamallapuram: India A and India C, will lock horns in a crucial seventh-round match in the open section at the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram, on Friday.
Though the Team A starts as favourite, India C is capable of any upset. The team strategy would be a major aspect as it remains to be seen which players would be rested in one of the most important rounds.
Team A have exhibited a solidity, not losing a single game, but the top guns like Vidit Gujrathi and Arjun Erigaisi have not been in firing form.
India B will take on Cuba which has been on a roll, surprising many in the previous rounds. D Gukesh has been in formidable form for India B with a 6/6 on the top board.
The last half promises intense and exciting battles and it is largely a question of which teams can rise to the occasion. Permutations and combinations have often gone awry in the last few rounds of the Olympiad but one thing is crystal-clear, performances above average ratings, only can enhance medal prospects.
After the halfway stage of the 44th Chess Olympiad with six rounds completed, India A and Armenia have emerged as sole leaders in the women’s and open section respectively.
India A, in the women’s section have justified their top seeding with six successive victories to tally 12 points. Sixth-seeded Azerbaijan and 20th seed Romania follow behind with 11 points each.
The open section has been a roller coaster ride with 12th seed Armenia shooting into sole lead with a 12/12 score. The star-studded US team is in second place with 11 points while India A and India B along with nine others have totalled 10 points.
India A women’s team have been a cohesive unit with each player rising to the occasion whenever needing a victory. They will now face tougher teams like Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Poland and Armenia in the remaining five games. All that India A team need to do is to stick to their game plan and deliver as they have done so far.
India B and India C have drifted down but can take solace in the fact that the last few rounds can bring about dramatic reversal if they focus on winning.