MAMALLAPURAM: The Indian teams have been at the forefront in the 44th Chess Olympiad thus far with India ‘A’ at the top of the standings in the women’s section and the ‘B’ team in third position in the Open event after six rounds.
The tournament has now entered its business end.
The Koneru Humpy-led India ‘A’ is unbeaten in six matches and takes on Azerbaijan on Friday. A win would further the team’s cause and probably help pull away from the rest of the field.
The other two home teams appear to have fallen behind after starting well and will need some catching up to do.
As Humpy said after the win over Georgia on Wednesday, they will “have to play many more tough teams like Ukraine and so on in the days to come.”
Also, one of the players has risen to the occasion at various stages and the experienced Tania Sachdev has provided the all-important win a couple of times as has R Vaishali.
“Our team spirit is high and whenever in need of a victory, always any one player from the team would shine,” she added.
Having started as the No.1 seed, Humpy and Co are expected to land a medal given the manner in which they have played in the first half of the Olympiad.
However, it is important that the players keep their composure and continue to perform as they have so far.
In the open event, the India ‘B’ team which includes a bunch of talented teenagers — R Praggnanandhaain-form D Gukesh and Raunak Sadhwani — apart from the experienced B Adhiban saw his five-match winning streak halted by Armenia in the sixth round on Wednesday.
Gukesh has been on a splendid streak, winning all his six games so far and will be expected to lead the ‘B’ team’s charge in the coming days. The squad needs to maintain the high standards to lay its hands on a medal.
The second-ranked India ‘A’ team which is in sixth spot will also be eyeing a strong finish and, given the pedigree of the squad members, it could be in the reckoning for a medal.
Interestingly, the ‘A’ team would run into the host’s ‘C’ team in the seventh round and a keen match is on the cards. Although the No.2 seeds with P Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi and Arjun Erigaisi in the ranks should be favourites, they would not be taking their opponents lightly.
With five rounds still to be played in the sport’s showpiece, the contests are expected to become stiffer.
Indian teams’ pairings for Round 7: Open Section: India ‘A’ vs India ‘C’, Cuba vs India ‘B’
Women: Azerbaijan vs India ‘A’, India ‘B’ vs Greece, India ‘C’ vs Switzerland.