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Indian women win historic Chess Olympiad medal; hosts get bronze in Open section

India A team (from L) R Vaishali, Bhakti Kulkarni, Tania Sachdev and Koneru Humpy won a bronze medal at the Chess Olympiad. (Pic credit: FIDE/Lennart Ootes & Stev Bonhage)
India A team (from L) R Vaishali, Bhakti Kulkarni, Tania Sachdev and Koneru Humpy won a bronze medal at the Chess Olympiad. (Pic credit: FIDE/Lennart Ootes & Stev Bonhage)
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Suhas Nayse

The Indian women’s team scripted history by winning the bronze medal at the 44th Chess Olympiad, which concluded in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, on Tuesday (August 9).

The India B men’s team in the Open section grabbed a second bronze medal to round out a memorable day for the chess fraternity.

The India A team, consisting of Koneru Humpy, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev, Dronavalli Harika, and Bhakti Kulkarni, notched up the bronze to win India's first-ever medal in the Women’s section at the prestigious event.

The women were in line to clinch the gold medal but a 1-3 defeat against the USA in the final round match shattered their hopes. Humpy and Vaishali drew their games while Sachdev and Kulkarni lost theirs.

Abhijit Kunte, the India A coach, was all praise for the team’s brilliant effort at the Chess Olympiad. He said (via Scroll):

“The team has worked really hard in the last three or four months. This is India’s first-ever medal in the history of the Olympics, and this should be the beginning of a much better days for women’s chess in India.”

The first women’s Olympiad was held in 1957. Since 1976, Women’s and Open sections have been held together.

In the Open section, the young India B team, which impressed everyone with their brilliant performances throughout the event, handed the country its second bronze medal. They outclassed Germany 3-1 in their final match on Tuesday.

India B had D. Gukesh leading from the start, scoring a fantastic nine points out of a maximum of 11.

Young sensation Nihal Sarin chipped in with a superb 7.5 points out of 10. R. Praggnanandhaa notched up 6.5/9, while Nagpur teenager Raunak Sadhwani also scored a valuable 5.5/8.

Gukesh said:

“Overall, it has been a very enjoyable event. I didn’t expect us to perform so well but it could have been better. We could have had a great chance at a gold medal if I had won or drawn my game yesterday (on Monday). But these things happen.
"Immediately after the game, I was devastated and our mentor (Viswanathan) Anand put me in a better frame of mind by saying that these things happen in the sport and he too was at the receiving end himself.”

This was also India’s second bronze medal in the Open section at the Chess Olympiad after winning it in 2014.


Gukesh and Sarin bag gold as India dominate with seven individual medals

Besides medals in the team events, as many as seven Indians won individual medals: two golds, one silver, and four bronze medals.

Gukesh and Sarin were on top and second boards, respectively, while Arjun Erigaisi secured a silver medal on the third board.

Praggnanandhaa (third board), R Vaishali (third board), Tania Sachdev (third board) and Divya Deshmukh (reserve board) claimed individual bronze medals.

India also won the prestigious Gaprindashvili Cup, awarded for their collective performances in both the Open and Women's sections.


Uzbekistan and Ukraine crowned champions in Open and Women’s event at 44th Chess Olympiad

Uzbekistan and Ukraine emerged as champions in the Open and Women’s sections, respectively, at the 44th Chess Olympiad on Tuesday.

The young Uzbekistan side, seeded 14th tied for top place with 12th seeded Armenia but won the gold medal on a better tie-break. Armenia had to settle for silver, after both teams scored 19 points each. India B finished with a tally of 18 points.

The event produced the most unexpected results where fancied teams ranked in the top-10 failed to win any medals. India A also performed well but were rather unlucky to finish fourth, missing the medal by a whisker.

India A held the USA to a nail-biting 2-2 draw. Erigaisi brought in the victory while Harikrishna and Vidit Gujrathi were held to draws. SL Narayanan lost his game.

In the Women’s section, Ukraine clinched gold and Georgia silver after a tie-break was applied as both scored 18 points each. India A, USA and Kazakhstan tied for third place but were pipped by India A for the bronze.

India B, seeded 11th, also performed commendably to be placed eighth with 16 points while India C finished 17th with 15 points to their credit.


Edited by Puranjay Dixit
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