Chess Olympiad: Mixed fortunes for the hosts as India B shock favourites USA 

Harpal Singh Bedi

Mamallapuram:  On a day of mixed fortunes for the hosts, young Grandmaster D Gukesh recorded a stunning eighth successive win as India B thrashed star-studded USA in a massive upset while India A and C teams suffered defeats at the 44th Chess Olympiad here on Saturday.

Four debutants—Gukesh, Raunak Sadhwani, Nihal Sarin and R Praggnanandhaa, shocked the top-seeded and strong contender for the title, USA comfortably by a 3-1 score in the open section eighth-round encounter.

However top second-seeded India A lost to Armenia 1.5-2.5 while India C suffered a 1-3 defeat against Peru.

Extending his sensational unbeaten run , the 16-year-old Gukesh upstaged the former World Championship Challenger Fabiano Caruana in a critical game on the top board.

 His has been the most impressive debuts in the Olympiad. Only the former world champion Vladimir Kramnik set a record of 8.5/9 in 1992, clocking a 2958 rating performance. Till seventh round, Gukesh had clocked a 3300 plus performance.

Sadhwani also played brilliantly to defeat much higher rated Leinier Perez Dominguez while While Sarin and Praggnanandhaa held other strong opponents, Levon Aronian and Wesley So respectively with almost effortless ease.

“From the beginning we had all intention of figuring in the Top-3 and with Gukesh going such great guns, it very much looks a possibility,” said coach RB Ramesh, .

“Fabiano is my favourite player and it was a pleasure to be pitted against him. Initially, I was caught in the opening as it went along unfamiliar lines for me. I was slightly worse. After he played a dubious move, I got back into the game,” said Gukesh, who clinched the game on the 45th turn. He had three extra pieces on the board which indicates his sheer dominance.

Meanwhile in the women’s section, India B thrashed Croatia by 3.5-0.5 score.

On the other hand, India A, who had seven victories before this match, were held to a 2-2 draw by second-seeded Ukraine in an intensely fought encounter while India C lost to Poland by 1-3.

Despite Saturday’s loss, India A continued to be sole leader with 15 points, followed by Georgia (14 points).           


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