One of the key elements in India’s gold-medal-winning show, alongside Russia, at last year’s FIDE online Olympiad was the performances of the women players and youngsters. Women world rapid champion Koneru Humpy’s thrilling tie-breaker victory over Monika Socko of Poland helped the side make the final. India’s squad for this edition of the online Olympiad too boasts of strong players in all categories.
The star-studded line-up will be led by Legends Koneru Humpy, Vishwanathan Anand and D Harika. The team also consists of Tania Sachdev and R Vaishali in the Women’s category and Woman Fide Master Savitha Shri in the Junior Girls. Grandmasters Vidit Gujrathi, P Harikrishna, and Adhiban B in the Open category and Nihal Sarin and R Praggnanandhaa in the Juniors Open. “Much like last year, the presence of sturdy women players and world-class youngsters such as Praggu and Nihal give India an edge. There is depth in every category of our team and we have strong players on every board,” non-playing captain Srinath Narayanan told a leading daily.
Humpy, India’s top woman player, said after having won the tournament (along with Russia) last time, “There are a lot of expectations from us. We have to start from the beginning and enjoy the game. I am sure we will achieve success.”
India on Friday sailed into the quarterfinals of the Fide Online Chess Olympiad, topping Pool B in the Top Division with an unbeaten record. India started the day with a convincing 4-2 win over close rival Hungary in the seventh round with victories coming from Anand, Koneru Humpy, the top women's player and Nihal Sarin. P Harikrishna went down to Imre Balog while D Harika and R Vaishali settled for draws. In the eighth round, India chose to rest Anand, Humpy and Harika but had no problems routing Moldova 5-1.
Vidit Gujrathi, Tania Sachdev, Bhakti Kulkarni and the talented young R Praggnanandhaa posted wins while B Adhiban and B Savitha Shri settled for draws. With the top spot assured in the pool with a round to go, India was held to a 3-3 draw by a fighting Slovenia. Only Vidit Gujrathi and Praggnanandhaa could record wins while the Slovenians Teja Vidic and Zala Urh turned the tables on Bhakti Kulkarni and Savitha Shri to help the team bounce back in the ninth and final round of the preliminary phase. The experienced Harikrishna managed a draw against Jure Skoberne to help India escape with a draw and maintain its unbeaten record.
The quarterfinals will be held on September 13 after a two-day break.