MAMALLAPURAM: It was a historic day for Indian chess as both the men’s and women’s teams won bronze medals in the 44th Chess Olympiad tuesday. But there was also a sense of failure.
While the India 2 team, made up of young D GukeshR Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin, Raunak Sadhwani and B Adhiban, missed their golden chance losing to Uzbekistan on Monday, Indian women missed their chance to win gold losing to USA in the 11th round Tuesday, reports Prasad RS. The men from Uzbekistan finished first and the girls from Ukraine took gold.
“Winning the medal was historic, but we couldn’t play to our full potential. This bronze doesn’t seem enough,” India’s No.1 player Koneru Humpy said. It was the first women’s Olympic medal. In the open section, the young wolves of Indian chess won against Germany to secure a medal.
Teen mind gets India 2 open team bronze
Eight years after winning their first Olympiad medal, a group of talented teenagers have ensured that the sport’s rising superpower has a team on the podium in their own backyard.
India Open 2 team, consisting of young talents like D Gukesh and R Praggnanandhaa, won the bronze medal in the open category beating Germany on Tuesday. They finished with 18 points after 11 rounds of action, one behind Uzbekistan (19), who won gold. Armenia also finished on the 19th, but the mathematical formula devised by FIDE picking the winner for teams finishing on the same points allowed the Uzbeks to take the cake. India 1 missed out on a medal as they drew with USA 2-2 in the last round and finished fourth. The third Indian team finished in 36th place after their 2-2 result against Kazakhstan.
For bronze medalists, Nihal Sarin and Raunak Sadhwani reigned supreme over their opponents — Matthias Bluebaum and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu respectively — on the final day. Nihal won in 55 moves while Raunak needed 47 moves to clinch his 5th win of the tournament. On the other boards, D Gukesh, who suffered a heartbreaking loss in Round 10, drew against Vincent Keymer. R Praggnanandhaa also ended their tournament with a draw against Rasmus Svane.
Although the young guns gave their best, India 2 will regret the fact that they failed to improve their show at the 2014 Olympiad despite the absence of powerhouses—Russia and China—in this edition of the tournament. That said, India 2 will be delighted with the splendid show put on by Gukesh on the upper shelf. Gukesh was in fine form — racking up 9 points (8 wins, 1 loss and 2 draws) in 11 matches. He was followed by Nihal (7.5 points in 10 games), Praggu (6.5 in 9 games) and Raunak who scored 5.5 in 8 outings. B Adhiban, the oldest in the team, scored 4 points in 6 games. It should also be remembered that with the exception of Adhiban, the other four in India 2 — Gukesh, Praggu, Raunak and Nihal — were making their debuts in the over-the-board Olympiad.
Coach RB Ramesh seemed pleased with the team’s performance. “It was a good tournament for us. Our boys fought well. We were still in contention for a medal and I’m happy that we finished in the top 3,” Ramesh told TOI.
Medals galore for young guns: Gukesh won the individual gold medal on Table 1. On Table 2, Nihal pocketed the coveted yellow metal, while Arjun Erigaisi (silver) and Praggu (bronze) were also rewarded for their consistency in Board 3. Uzbekistan, who beat the Netherlands 2.5-1.5 in the final round to claim gold, praised the fighting spirit of India 2. “We had a very tough game against them. I thought their players Gukesh, Praggu and other youngsters had a great future. There is a lot of depth in their ranks,” stressed Jakhongir Vakhidov.
Uzbekistan beat India 2 in the penultimate round on Monday and that result snatched gold from the hosts. Armenia had taken over Spain 2.5-1.5.
Five Indians currently in the 2700 Elo rating club: Arjun Erigaisi, 18, is currently the club’s fifth Indian at 2700 ELO points – a hallowed mark in chess. He topped the mark in Tuesday’s live FIDE ratings after beating Leiner Dominguez of the United States in the 11th round. The other four Indians currently in the club are Viswanathan Anand (2756), P Harikrishna (2716), Vidit Gujrati (2710) and Gukesh (2725). Two other Indians – K Sasikiran and Adhiban – were also part of the club, but they dropped out. India joins a shortlist of nations like the United States, Russia and China that have five or more players on the list. Russian players, currently playing under the FIDE flag, have 10 players with a rating above 2700, while the United States and China have 6 and 5 each.

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