India presents four strong teams for the Olympiad in Chennai

by ChessBase
5/12/2022 – The All India Chess Federation has announced the biggest squad of Indian teams for the upcoming FIDE Olympiad. Vishy Anand has been named as the mentor for all four Indian teams, while the country’s third GM in history, Pravin Thipsay, will be the Head of the Delegation. | Photo: AICF

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Vishy Anand named as mentor

Press release by the All India Chess Federation

All India Chess FederationThe All India Chess Federation (AICF) announced last week the country’s biggest-ever 20-member squad for the 44th Chess Olympiad, as India gears up to host the prestigious tournament in Chennai from July 28 to August 10.

India being the host are entitled to field two teams each in the open category as well as the women’s section for the first time ever. It has certainly bolstered the medal chances at the 14-day event, which is expected to witness participation of world’s top names from more than 150 countries.

Vidit Gujrathi, who led India to gold medal in the 2020 Chess Olympiad, held virtually, will be part of India’s first team in the open section alongside Pentala Harikrishna and Chennai-based Krishnan Sasikiran, who have represented India on numerous occasions. The 19-year-old Arjun Erigaisi and S L Narayanan will also be part of the first team.

Arjun has been impressive in the last year and will be one of the players to watch out for as he makes his debut at the event along with S L Narayanan, whose solid style has been very impressive.

All India Chess Federation

On the other hand, the second team will consist of young talents, who have been making headlines with their consistent performances in the last couple of years, including Praggnanandhaa R, Nihal Sarin, D Gukesh and Raunak Sadhwani. They will be making their debuts at the Chess Olympiad. The team will also have experienced player Adbhiban B, who was a part of the Indian side which won the bronze medal in 2014.

AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan said:

Opportunity to field two teams at the Chess Olympiad opens the door for many young Indian talents to showcase their game at the biggest stage, which otherwise would have been possible after a wait of probably another couple of years. It’s a huge opportunity for them so early in their careers. Teams look strong and have a good mix of experience as well as young talents and I’m confident that they will make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wish all the members the best luck for the event and their preparations.

All India Chess Federation

Women’s category

The Indian women teams will have immensely talented Koneru Humpy and world no. 10 Harika Dronavalli, who have stamped their authority on many international tournaments, in addition to prolific Tania Sachdev, Vaishali R and Bhakti Kulkarni — the latter two will be making their debuts.

All India Chess Federation

The second team in the women’s section will consist of national champions Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes and Padmini Rout along with Vantika Agrawal and 16-year-old Divya Deshmukh.

All India Chess Federation

Mentor and coaches

The five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, who decided against playing the upcoming Chess Olympiad, will be very much in action as the mentor of the Indian teams. He stated:

I am playing very few events these days and after playing many Olympiads, I thought it was time for the younger ones to play. India has many talented youngsters like Nihal, Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh, Arjun and a few more.

Interestingly, Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali will be the second set of siblings to represent the country at the same Olympiad after N Saritha and N Sudhakar Babu, who played in 1988’s edition held in Greece.

  • GM Pravin Thipsay will be the Head of the Delegation.
  • GM Srinath Narayanan and GM R B Ramesh will be the coaches for first team and second team of open section respectively.
  • GM Abhijit Kunte will be the coach for the women’s first team and GM Swapnil Dhopade will be the coach for the second team.

Pravin Thipsay

GM Pravin Thipsay will be the Head of the Delegation | Photo: Amit Sharma

India won a bronze medal at the Tromso Chess Olympiad in 2014. In the two virtual Olympiads, India won gold jointly with Russia in 2020 while the women’s team won bronze in 2021.

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