Former Women's World Champion Susan Polgar feels that the rising strength of Indian chess players makes them favorites to grab three out of the six medals at stake in the 44th Chess Olympiad.
Even as chess fever and fervor grip Chennai with the Chess Olympiad being hosted at Mamallapuram, former Women’s World Champion Susan Polgar predicted a strong showing by the hosts.
The mega event will be held at Four Point by Sheraton from July 28 to August 10. It has attracted the participation of a record 187 countries, with 188 teams in the Open section and 162 in the women’s sections.
“The Indian women’s team has the best chance of grabbing gold in the absence of Russian and Chinese Teams,” Susan said, who catapulted to the top of the women’s rating list at just 15 years.
53-year old Susan is a Hungarian-American chess grandmaster. Polgár was Women’s World Champion from 1996 to 1999.
The Indian women’s team has big names in Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni. They are seeded top for the first time and incidentally will be looking to clinch their first ever medal for India in the women’s section.
Susan was one of the most decorated players with 12 Olympiad medals, including 5 gold and 4 silver. However, she feels that the star studded USA team, given top billing, is the favorite for gold.
“This time their team has been strengthened by the addition of Levon Aronian and Dominguez as they already have Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Sam Shankland," she further added.
However, the India A team and India B team could walk away with the remaining two medals, feels Susan. India’s best effort has been a bronze medal at Tromso in 2014.
Happy that the Chess Olympiad is being held in Chennai: Susan Polgar
Susan was the official commentator at the 2013 World Championship Match between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen in Chennai.
“It is awesome that India, especially Chennai, is hosting the Chess Olympiad. Chess enthusiasm in India is at an all-time high and hosting this event has provided many top young Indian talents the much-needed opportunity to gain a lot of experience," she added.
This time around Susan’s younger sister Judit Polgar, unarguably the strongest ever female chess player, will be the official commentator for the event.
India as hosts could field an extra team in both sections but the registration of odd entries in both sections resulted in India being able to field six teams.
This means that a whopping 30 Indians are playing in the same edition of the Olympiad. Previously, at best 10 players played in the same edition of the Olympiad. There couldn’t have been a better time than this, with the surge in teen talent in India waiting to demonstrate and dominate.