India in imperious form on opening day of Chess Olympiad

The Chess Olympiad is being held in India for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 1927 with a record number of countries in action



Players in action during the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai on Friday. — PTI
Players in action during the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai on Friday. — PTI

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sat 30 Jul 2022, 12:32 AM

Hosts India sounded an ominous warning to their rivals when winning all six matches in both the Open and Women’s categories on the opening day of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad in Chennai on Friday.

Wilting under the Indian onslaught were the UAE, Tajikistan, and South Sudan in the Open category, while Wales, Hong Kong, and the Tajikistan women’ squads also bowed to the home team’s superiority.

The Chess Olympiad is being held in India for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 1927 with a record number of countries in action. It is also the first time in 30 years that the Olympiad is being held in Asia.

The event is being held at Mahabalipuram, a seaside resort in South India. Chennai is widely regarded as the chess capital of the country and was the home of India’s most famous chess player, Viswanathan Anand.

Around 300 teams are competing in the Open category with 187 countries being represented in the women’s division. Of these, 188 teams are in the Open section and 162 in the women’s.

With the absence of Russia and China, the Indian A Team is seeded second behind the favourites USA.

Interestingly, the Indian teams did not drop a single match during a flawless day.

Indian Team B player Raunak Sadhwani was the first to register a victory with the White pieces when he defeated the UAE’s Abdulrahman Mohammad Al Taher in a Sicilian Defence game that ended on the 41st move.

Raunak made the most of the space advantage he generated through the King’s side.

After the exchange of minor pieces, he lured Abdulrahman’s King into a checkmating trap with the clever use of the queen and rooks.

Elsewhere, in the women’s division, India’s A team player Koneru Humpy survived a scare to recover from a disadvantageous position to defeat Tajikistan’s Nadezhda Antonova.

Humpy, who is among the world's strongest female players and is rated 754 Elo points above her rival from Tajikistan, prevailed with black pieces in 41 moves.

Antonova had her moment but failed to recover from a costly mistake in her 24th move where she forfeited a crucial piece and eventually the game.

India’s 30-member squad is believed to be the biggest ever in the Chess Olympiad.


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