Chennai Olympiad: US big favourite, India looking to leave a mark

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/28/2022 – 2022 has so far been an earth-shattering year for the chess world. And things continue to unfold in remarkable fashion, as the biggest-ever Olympiad is about to start in Chennai. In sporting terms, the absence of Russian and Chinese teams are a massive loss, but that is more than made up for by the excitement and commitment shown by the host country. Given the excellent reviews shared by participants and organizers alike, we can safely anticipate this will be a memorable event. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

ChessBase 16 - Mega package Edition 2022 ChessBase 16 - Mega package Edition 2022

Your key to fresh ideas, precise analyses and targeted training!
Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.

More...

India the chess powerhouse

There is a new epicentre in the chess world. The country that saw its first grandmaster become one of the greatest champions of the sport continues to take big strides on its way to consolidating as a chess powerhouse, only comparable to the likes of Russia, China and the United States. India, under the leadership of the universally respected Vishy Anand, has grabbed the attention of chess fans all over the world, and is now the host of the Olympiad with the highest-ever number of participants.

The games kick off Friday at 15.00 local time, that is 11.30 in continental Europe and 05.30 in United States’ Eastern Time. As has been the norm for a considerable number of editions, the open and women’s tournaments will be 11-round Swiss events, with a single rest day after the sixth round (on August 4). The massive event will come to an end on August 9.

Plenty of delegations have been sending updates from their long trips to Chennai. Once they arrived, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with chess players often praising the host country’s hospitality.

Beautiful views are a most-welcome bonus.

And the first pictures and videos from the venue also bode well for the tournament.

Open: US clear favourite, two Indian contenders

With the Russian team banned from participating and China deciding to withdraw from the competition, two of the strongest teams are missing in both sections. The United States team has thus become the overwhelming favourite in the open event. The Americans are, in fact, the only squad with a 2700+ rating average.

Back in 2018, the US team was also the favourite, but there were no fewer than five teams with a 2700+ rating average. Besides Russia and China, Azerbaijan and India also presented squads that surpassed the magic 2700-barrier.

While Azerbaijan would have been the main challengers rating-wise had Teimour Radjabov not withdrawn due to fatigue and health issues, India had Vishy Anand in their lineup four years ago — Vishy entered the tournament in Batumi with a 2799 rating! The multiple world champion has now taken more of a supporting role.

The one other team that could have prevented the US from being the only team with a 2700+ average was France, but Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and the recently naturalized Alireza Firouzja decided not to play due to the weather conditions in India. The five highest-rated players in France have a 2702 rating average. With the team the Europeans sent, they are only the 15th seeds going into the tournament.

Leaving hypotheticals aside, the top-5 starting rank in Chennai includes the United States, India, Norway, Spain and Poland. Naturally, the worst-balanced squad in this list is Norway, whose rating average is heavily boosted by the presence of world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Going down the list, young squads are likely to give surprises, with Germany, Uzbekistan and especially India 2 including players surely capable of beating higher-rated opposition on a good day.

Starting rank

No.   FED Team RtgAvg Captain
1
 
USA United States of America 2771 Donaldson, John
2
 
IND India 2696 Narayanan, Srinath
3
 
NOR Norway 2692 Haarr, Jon Kristian
4
 
ESP Spain 2687 Magem Badals, Jordi
5
 
POL Poland 2683 Bartel, Mateusz
6
 
AZE Azerbaijan 2680 Abasov, Nijat
7
 
NED Netherlands 2672 Smeets, Jan
8
 
UKR Ukraine 2666 Sulypa, Oleksandr
9
 
GER Germany 2664 Gustafsson, Jan
10
 
ENG England 2662 Pein, Malcolm
11
 
IND India 2 2649 Ramesh, R B
12
 
ARM Armenia 2642 Pashikian, Arman
13
 
IRI Iran 2636 Pourramezanali, Amirreza
14
 
UZB Uzbekistan 2625 Sokolov, Ivan
15
 
FRA France 2621 Maze, Sebastien

...188 teams

Chess Olympiad Chennai 2022

The organizing team | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Women’s: India, Ukraine and Georgia

While it would be shocking to see India overpowering a formidable US team in the open section, the locals are the favourites in the women’s tournament. However, the Indian team, led by Humpy Koneru, will have a tough time facing two traditional powerhouses of women’s chess: Ukraine and Georgia

Moreover, Poland, France, Azerbaijan, United States and Germany have teams that seem likely to fight for medals, or even tournament victory. Such an evenly matched field is prone to lead to a photo-finish conclusion.

The favourites are surely highly motivated, but will also deal with the pressure of playing at home, much like their male counterparts in the open section.

Starting rank

No.   FED Team RtgAvg Captain
1
 
IND India 2486 Kunte, Abhijit
2
 
UKR Ukraine 2478 Brodsky, Michail
3
 
GEO Georgia 2475 Jojua, Davit
4
 
POL Poland 2423 Dziuba, Marcin
5
 
FRA France 2400 Gozzoli, Yannick
6
 
AZE Azerbaijan 2399 Mamedov, Nidjat
7
 
USA United States of America 2390 Khachiyan, Melikset
8
 
GER Germany 2383 Yakovich, Yuri
9
 
ARM Armenia 2367 Andriasian, Zaven
10
 
KAZ Kazakhstan 2365 Kotsur, Pavel
11
 
IND2 India 2 2351 Swapnil, S. Dhopade
12
 
HUN Hungary 2342 Papp, Gabor
13
 
ESP Spain 2327 Martinez Martin, David
14
 
CUB Cuba 2324 Alvarez Pedraza, Aramis
15
 
BUL Bulgaria 2319 Arnaudov, G. Petar

...162 teams

Chess Olympiad Chennai 2022

The future of Indian chess | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Links


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
Discussion and Feedback Submit your feedback to the editors