Chess Olympiad 2022, Viswanathan Anand Exclusive Column: Fighting India 1 and India 2 inch closer to leader Armenia

Today was a dramatic day. For a while it looked like Harikrishna was doing better against Surya in the main clash, but then Surya knew how to defend exactly. In the end though Arjun and SL Narayanan broke through. Narayanan found a very pretty combination with bishop capturing on f2 square and Arjun just outplayed Abhijeet quite slowly. Some elegant maneuvers in the queen-endgame convinced Abhijeet to resign immediately. So a big win for India 1 which remains in contention.

Amazingly, the Armenia-USA turned out to be a fascinating encounter. Wesley So got a winning position very quickly against Melkumyan after Armenia made a blunder. He moved a pawn forward, not seeing that his opponent could simply capture with the rook. And if he recaptured it with a pawn, Wesley could further sacrifice a queen and beat him. It must have slipped his mind and he never really got back into the game.



But then Sargissian outplayed Fabiano Caruana, which is a huge result. So that meant that Armenia had tied the match whereupon it was then dependent on the two remaining games Dominguez was winning against Samvel Ter-Sahakyan and Shankland was struggling against Hovhannisyan.

Dominguez duly converted and things looked very good for the US since it was leading. But Shankland was also totally lost and there seemed to be no way back. He defended well tenaciously, his opponent overreached, slipped up a bit and suddenly Shankland reached a drawn position.

And in time pressure, Shankland seems to have responded to a move he thought was played, whereas his opponent had actually stopped his queen, a square earlier. As a result, Shankland’s king was walking into a check and he would have to make the only legal move available to it, whereupon a drawn position suddenly went back to being lost.

A kind of tragedy from the US perspective, or a miracle from the Armenian one. All I can say, it was drama and tension until the end and you pity both teams. Of course, Armenia fought back very, very well, but it’s a real pity for the US and Shankland that after seemingly saving the game and clinching the match, it had to end this way. It means that thanks to this draw, both India 1 and India 2 pull one point closer to leader Armenia and join the USA in second place.

India 2 looks in very good shape with Gukesh and Nihal Sarin once again producing winning displays on the top two boards after Praggnanandhaa gave the lead.

Koneru Humpy was doing very well in the opening and for India, that was a very optimistic situation. But her opponent was very resourceful. She found several practical attempts that provoked mistakes. Then the game turned round suddenly and there was no way back and Gunay Mammadzada prosecuted the end at a very high level. There was one late chance where Humpy missed a draw. So slight blip in the execution but it was not easy to see. After Harika let go of a promising position, Tanya looked in good shape after being in some early trouble. Tania’s victory brought India on level terms and then Vaishali delivered the knockout punch.

It was a bad day for India 2 which lost the top two boards. Vantika suffered her first defeat and Soumya lost as well. Even Divya’s win was not enough to save the day for the team.

Fortunately, India 3 produced a good win against Switzerland after Eesha Karavade and PV Nandhidhaa scored on the first two boards.

The draw was easier for Pratyusha Bodda than Vishwa Vasnawala.


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