India’s joint win within the Chess Olympiad and the following degree


Vinayak Padmadeo

eigning World Rapid champion Koneru Humpy was lastly compelled out of her social media hibernation to just accept the brand new world. She prefers to focus on her recreation or her younger household, however to have fun the Indian crew’s ‘historic’ gold on the FIDE Online Olympiad, the queen of the chessboard broke her social media exile.

R Praggnanandhaa

The customary ‘thank you’ replies to influential stars and politicians have been adopted by a message to her followers concerning the existence of a pretend account. “Following account is not mine: twitter.com/HumpyKoneru. I request Twitter India to take appropriate action,” Humpy, world’s No. 2 ranked girl participant, wrote on her verified Twitter web page.

This was in contrast to something the 32-year-old star with a FIDE score of 2586 had performed, however with the surge in curiosity in chess, she realised she needed to get actual on-line. “I was never interested in social media. I always knew there was a fake account but I never really bothered. But after this victory, many wanted me to respond to fans so I thought OK, I should better clarify now,” stated Humpy, who performed a stellar position within the Indian crew’s passage to the ultimate by clinching the tie-breaker in opposition to Poland.

Nihal Sarin

If the dialogue on her new dalliance with social media introduced a giant chuckle over the cellphone, Humpy broke out into laughter when describing how followers, mediapersons and everybody bought concerned to resolve the ability outage problem that brought about defeat from a seemingly successful place for each her and captain Vidit Gujrathi in opposition to Mongolia. The duo misplaced on time after the ability breakdown.

The minor setback bought each Gujrathi and his deputy Srinath Narayanan to make use of their connections to make sure that the crew suffered no such misfortune within the knockouts. As a end result, an engineer and a line employee have been positioned close to Humpy’s home in Hyderabad for each recreation and Viswanathan Anand’s condominium advanced in Chennai noticed no energy outage.

I hope this may result in many optimistic issues, reminiscent of reconsideration within the Sports Ministry of the Arjuna Award and the Dronacharya Aawards for chess.

— Viswanathan Anand


“This, perhaps, was the first instance where everyone joined hands… Many from the media used their contacts with the local internet guys (to ensure connectivity) and even the fans helped out,” Humpy defined.

“We never got such attention before. But this Olympiad is historic as everyone will remember this for a very long time,” she added.

Historic second

It was certainly historic — the match started in 1927, and India debuted in it at Moscow in 1956 and promptly completed on the backside of the pile. But an Indian had figured within the match beforehand — Sultan Khan, of Sargodha within the undivided Punjab, performed at three Olympiads for England.

India received a medal for the primary time in 2014, when the crew of Parimarjan Negi, P Sethuraman, Okay Sasikiran, B Adhiban and Lalith Babu completed third behind China and Hungary.

India’s biggest participant, Viswanathan Anand, had not prioritised this occasion; he performed within the biennial match 5 occasions in a row from 1984 to 1992, after which in 2004 and 2006, earlier than making a return in 2018. His greatest is a particular person silver in 2004, the 12 months he took India to their then better of sixth place. But Anand was not India’s first medallist on the Olympiad — that honour goes to Rafiq Khan, a carpenter from Bhopal, who received a bronze on the third Board — ie, amongst designated third-best gamers in all groups — in 1980.

Anand was smart to concentrate on his particular person profession as he was difficult for the world title, which he received a number of occasions; additionally, he most likely didn’t have the motivation to compete in a match by which most of his teammates can be floundering.

However, because the GMs impressed by him turned stronger, India’s standing on the earth of chess improved. India have been ranked No. 7 for the Online Olympiad — an indication of the depth of expertise within the nation. And this time, India had an ace up their sleeves — the top-class youngsters.

Format, juniors clicked

For the primary time, junior boards have been included this 12 months — every crew needed to have one female and male participant aged 20 or beneath. This proved advantageous for India as a number of proficient children reminiscent of Nihal Sarin (age 16, with ELO score of 2620), R Praggnanandhaa (16, ELO 2608) and Raunak Sadhwani (14, ELO 2545) have emerged up to now few years. India has added a powerful 21 GMs within the final three years — and eight of them have been within the 10-19 age-group once they bought their ultimate GM norm.

When referred to as into motion on the Online Olympiad, the teenagers held their very own. Nihal beat Igor Janik within the semifinals in opposition to Poland when lots of the completed names within the crew, together with Anand and Gujrathi, misplaced.

The different factor that clicked was the crew spirit. “It was easy. Both Anand and Humpy are legends and made my life very easy, practically left all the decisions to me,” captain Gujrathi defined.

Tough act to comply with

Observers are fast to level out that whereas getting on the rostrum as joint winners with Russia (seven-time winners, plus 18 occasions as a part of USSR) is huge, a full-fledged Olympiad, the place the top-five ranked gamers of a rustic take part, can be one other ball recreation altogether.

International Master V Saravanan is delighted but in addition cautious. “US did not make it to the final because Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana were not in the team. When teams like Russia, USA and China compete with their full bench strength, then India is out of contention,” Saravanan stated. “But there is no denying that it is a significant achievement as they finished joint first amongst 163 countries.”

Online increase

The Covid pandemic has given a giant fillip to India’s booming chess fraternity. More than 69,000 Indians have been logged on-line to observe the ultimate. Websites like ChessBase India and lichess.org and discuss exhibits by Suryashekhar Ganguly had followers riveted to their screens.

“There is a feel-good factor. There is a lot of online activity because of the pandemic. You have more than 150 GMs playing Title Tuesday, which is featured on chess.com. It is here Arjun Kalyan beat Alireza Firouzja, who is touted as Magnus Carlsen’s next biggest contender,” Saravanan stated.

Gujrathi is hopeful of a golden future. “We cannot sit on this thinking we have talented young players,” he stated. “We have to have a proper system so that the talent doesn’t go to waste. Olympians train for four years to have one shot at glory. We need a similar professional approach.”

At current, it’s all right down to particular person effort. And the truth that Anand, in his 51st 12 months, remains to be simply India’s greatest, regardless of apparent decline, speaks volumes. Since he turned India No. 1 in 1986, solely Pentala Harikrishna was in a position to overtake Anand, albeit for under someday in 2016! The juniors have to work exhausting to catch him earlier than attempting to catch the world.

“People like Vidit, Praggnanandhaa and Nihal are on par with Anand’s talent when he broke out. But talent almost doesn’t matter after reaching the 2700 rating mark. A person’s approach, how happy and settled he is in life… Things like these will decide careers,” Saravanan stated.

India have 4 GMs on the earth top-100 — the quantity is 24 for Russia, 10 for USA and 9 for China. Ex-USSR international locations reminiscent of Armenia and Azerbaijan have 5 every. It’s clear that whereas possessing 66 GMs is spectacular, to change into an actual chess energy, India should get extra of them within the top-100. The pre-teens and youths have their activity lower out.

— With Rohit Mahajan



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