All three Indian teams win their first round matches with 4-0 scores

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The first round of the 44th Chess Olympiad at Mamallapuram, Chennai was inaugurated by Shri Anurag Thakur, Honourable Union Minister for I&B, Youth Affairs and Sports by making the first move on Vidit Gujrathi’s board, Five time World Champion Viswanathan Anand and Arkady Dvorkovich, President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) President, AICF President Dr Sanjay Kapoor, and Olympiad Director Bharat Singh Chauhan were also present on the occasion.

There was plenty of excitement and anticipation in the large crowd that thronged the Four Points by Sheraton, the venue of the Olympiad to have a glimpse of their favourite stars. 184 of the 188 Teams registered began their campaign in this 11 Round Swiss League tournament. All the three Indian teams in fray ended on the winning side without much hiccups.

Tops seed USA also started their campaign with a victory over Angola, but Levon Aronian had to struggle for a draw in an inferior position against much lower-rated IM David Silva. Norway resting their star player Magnus Carlsen also scored 4-0 against Lebanon.

The three Indian teams in the fray decided to rest Pentala Harikrishna, R Praggnanandhaa and Surya Shekhar Ganguly for the first round. Each Team comprises of five players with four players fielded for the round and one player rested. Generally, the first few rounds of a Swiss League event are expected to provide predictable results favouring the higher rated Teams.

Raunak  Sadhwani from Team B 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 kingside after the exchange of minor pieces and dragged the King in a checkmating net with the queen and rooks combining efficiently.

‘This is my debut at the Olympiad and I am happy to start with a victory having played a good game” said Raunak. ‘Me and my team want to play good chess in this Olympiad’, he added further.

Results (open section)

INDIA A vs ZIMBABWE (India won 4-0)

Vidit Gujrathi  beat Makoto Rodwell
Masango Spencer lost to Arjun Erigaisi
Narayanan.S.L defeated Mushore Emarald
Zhemba Jemusse lost to Sasikaran Krishnan

INDIA B VS UAE (India won 4-0)

Al Hosani lost to Gukesh D
Nihali beat Sultan I
M.S lost to Adhiban B
Raunak Sadhwani beat Abdul Rahman

INDIA C VS SOUTH SUDAN (India won 4-0)

Sethuraman beat Rehan
Ajak M lost to Abhijeet Gupta
Murali Karthikeyan beat Gong T
Manyang lost to Abhimanyu Puranik

Humpy Koneru defeated N. Antoneva of Tajikistan. PHOTO: Stev Bonhage

The Indian women made merry in the first round of the 44th Chess Olympiad with all the three teams blanking out their opponents to win their Matches with 4-0 margin.  In 17 of the top 18 Matches seeded players won by an overwhelming 4-0 scores.The Indian Women C Team seeded 16thth was the first to finish their Match, winning with an expected and anticipated 4-0 victory over Hong Kong seeded 95th. The India Team B seeded 11th scored over Wales ranked 90th. Top seed Team A was the last to finish against Tajikistan ranked 80th.

The encounter between Rukhshona  Saidova and Tania Sachdev on the third board in a Ruy-Lopez game appeared to favour Tania throughout. However Rukhshona tried to defend dourly in a double bishop versus a knight and bishop ending. Tania’s bishop battery settled the issue in her favour.

Results (Women’s section)

Indian Women’s Team A vs Tajikistan (India won 4-0)

Antoneva N lost to Koneru Humpy
Vaishali beat Abrorova
Saidova lost to Tania Sachdev
Bhakti Kulkarni beat Hotami

Indian Women’s Team B vs Wales (India won 4-0)

Smith lost to Vantika Agrawal
Soumya beat Chong
Ray Hiya lost to Mary Ann Gomes
Divya Deshmukh beat Khushi Bagga

Indian Women’s Team C vs Hong Kong (India won 4-0)

Karavade beat Kannappan
Deng lost to Nandhidhaa
Sahithi beat Joy Ching
Ka Yan lost to Pratyusha

Humpy Koneru defeated N. Antoneva of Tajikistan. PHOTO: Stev Bonhage