Chess: Viswanathan Anand to lead Indian squad in defence of Online Chess Olympiad crown
New Delhi, September 6, 2021
Former world champion Viswanathan Anand will lead the star-studded Indian squad to defend its Online Chess Olympiad crown, which gets underway worldwide late on Monday.
The Indian squad comprises Grandmasters (GM) Vidit Gujrathi, P Harikrishna, and Adhiban B in the Open category, GM Koneru Humpy and D Harika and Woman GM Tania Sachdev and R Vaishali in the Women's category, GM Nihal Sarin and R Praggnanandhaa in the Juniors Open and Woman GM Vaishali R and Woman Fide Master Savitha Shri in the Junior Girls.
The Indian squad will launch its campaign on Wednesday. A victory will ensure the country its second gold medal, back to back, in the prestigious tournament.
Over 150 countries will be competing for honors over a thrilling week. India has nine other teams in its pool and will play three matches a day from September 8 to 10. Then, after a two-day rest, the knockout stages will begin.
Unlike the last time, when the players played from their respective homes, the All India Chess Federations (AICF) has ensured that the team will be together for this edition. They are being put up in a five-star hotel in Chennai with top-of-the-line facilities, including a dedicated Internet connection.
The main challenge for the Indian team will again come from Russia, who were the co-winners last time.
India will have an edge in this edition, too, as it is being played under the rapid chess rules. It has a number of speed kings, with Anand being a much-feared player in the faster version for the last 30 years.
Vidit, Harikrishna, Nihal, Praggnanandhaa are also acknowledged masters of this format. That said, in the previous edition, it was Koneru Humpy who had ensured a smooth ride for the team in the finals, defeating Monica Sozcko of Poland in the Armageddon game.
"We have a good mix of experience and youth. We hope to do well and are fairly confident of our prospects," Anand told journalists.
"This is the new AICF. We will do everything to make our players comfortable and competitive," AICF President Sanjay Kapoor said adding "Our next target is a cash-rich Chess league and the Chess in School Program of the AICF. This is just the beginning. Many good things are in the pipeline for the chess fraternity of the country",
"We wanted the players to bond with each other and play as a team. This prompted us to bring them all here in Chennai. All the players, save three, are comfortably settled in their rooms and are raring to go. We thank our sponsors Microsense for making this happen," added AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan.