Indian teams opened their campaigns with easy wins in the Open and women’s sections of the 44th Chess Olympiad on Friday. All the six Indian teams (three in Open and three in women’s event) won 4-0 over their first round opponents. Top-seeded Indian women’s A team beat Tajikistan while the B side got the better of Wales. India’s star player Koneru Humpy, playing on the top board, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdeva and Bhakti Kulkarni secured victories to ensure a winning start.
Humpy, the highest rated Indian woman player, got the better of Nedezha Antonova in 41 moves with black pieces.
The Indian C team too began with a win, hammering Hong Kong 4-0.
The formidable US team, the top-seed in the Open event, dropped half a point against 93rd ranked Angola when International Master David Silva held Levon Aronian to a draw.
Wesley So, Leinier Dominiguez, Perez and Sam Shankland recorded wins to register 3.5-0.5 victory for US.
The second-ranked Ukraine thrashed South Africa 4-0 and third-seed Georgia beat Iraq 4-0. Norway, without star player Magnus Carlsen, won 4-0 against Lebanon.
The three Indian teams in the men’s event posted wins in the first round matches over Zimbabwe, UAE and South Sudan respectively.
The star-studded ‘A’ team, ranked second behind the mighty US squad, rolled over Zimbabwe, with Vidit Gujrathi, Arjun Erigaisi, SL Narayanan and K Sasikiran recording wins.
Raunak Sadhwani of the India B team was the first player to register a victory with the White pieces against Abdulrahman M in a Sicilian Defence game lasting 41 moves.
Enjoying space advantage, Raunak broke through on the King side after the exchange of minor pieces and dragged the King in a checkmating net with the queen and rooks combining efficiently.
“This is my first Olympiad and I am happy to start with a victory especially if you have played a good game,” said Raunak.
“Me and my team want to play good chess,” he added.
The other wins came from the fast-rising D Gukesh, the experienced B Adhiban and Nihal Sarin. The team coached by R B Ramesh chose to rest R Praggnanandhaa for Friday’s match.
The opening round of the historic Chess Olympiad was inaugurated by Sports Minister Anurag Thakur by making the first move on Indian player Vidit Gujrathi’s board.
Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, All India Chess Federation President Sanjay Kapoor and Olympiad Director Bharat Singh Chauhan were also present on the occasion.
Results of India’s matches: Open: India A beat Zimbabwe 4-0 (Vidit Gujrathi beat Rodwell Makoto, Arjun Erigaisi beat Spencer Masango, S L Narayanan beat Emarald Takudzwa Mushore, K Sasikiran beat Jemusse Zhemba).
India B beat UAE 4-0 (D Gukesh beat Omran Al Hosani, Nihal Sarin beat Ibrahim Sultan, B Adhiban beat Saeed Laily Mohamed, Raunak Sadhwani beat Al Taher Abdulrahman Mohammed).
India C beat South Sudan 4-0 (S P Sethuraman beat Deng Cypriano Rehan, Abhijeet Gupta beat Mach Duany Ajak, Karthikeyan Murali beat Thon Gong Gong, Abhimanyu Puranik beat Majur Manyang Peter).
Women: India A beat Tajikistan 4-0 (Koneru Humpy beat N Antonova, R Vaishali beat S Abrorova, Tania Sachdev beat Rukshona Saidova, Bhakti Kulkarni beat Mutriba Hotami).
India B beat Wales 4-0 (Vantika Agarwal beat Olivia Smith, Soumya Swaminathan beat Kimberly Chong, Mary Ann Gomes beat Hiya Ray, Divya Deshmukh beat Khushi Bagga).
India C beat Hong Kong 4-0 (Esha Karvade beat Sigappi Kannappan, PV Nandhidhaa beat Jing Xin Deng, V M Sahiti beat Joy Ching Li, Pratyusha Bodda beat Ka Yen Lam). PTI SS PDS PDS
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