The All India Chess Federation (AICF) announced two Indian teams for the 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled at Chennai from 28th July to 10th August. As is the norm, the Team selection is based on the average rating of the player in the last three Rating lists released by World Chess Organization (FIDE ). Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, Pentala Harikrishna, Arjun Erigaisi, S L Narayanan and Krishnan Sasikiran will form the first Team while Nihal Sarin, Gukesh D, Adhiban B, Praggnanandhaa R. and Raunak Sadhwani will represent India as the second team. India as the hosts of the Olympiad, are entitled to field two teams while the 160 odd countries participating, will field one team each.
In the Women’s section Koneru Humpy, Harika Dronavalli, R Vaishali , Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni comprise the main team while the second team will be represented by Vantika Agrawal, Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes, Padmini Rout and Divya Deshmukh.
There was some bitter- sweet news for India as the highest rated Indian and five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand decided against playing in this event but will be very much in action as the Chief Mentor to the Indian teams.
“After playing many Olympiads, I thought it was time for the younger ones to play” reasoned Anand.
27-year-old Vidit ranked 23rd in the World has been making his mark amongst the elites of the game while Pentala Harikrishna and Krishnan Sasikiran are experienced dependable players, having represented India on numerous occasions. 19-year-old Arjun Erigaisi has been on a roll last one year and is easily one of the players to watch out for in this Olympiad as he makes his debut with S. L. Narayanan, whose solid style has been very impressive.
The second Indian team has teen talents Nihal , Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh, Ritesh debuting in the Olympiad, all dangerous players who have been hitting International headlines with regularity in the last couple of years. Adbhiban at 29 years is the oldest player of the team and was a member of the bronze medal winning team in 2014.
The Indian Women team too appears formidable with the immensely talented Koneru Humpy and Dronavalli Harika who have stamped their authority on many international tournaments, playing on the top two boards. Tania Sachdev too is a prolific tournament winner while R Vaishali and Bhakti Kulkarni will make their debut.
The second Indian Women’s team has experienced Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes and Padmini Rout, all National Champions having represented India in earlier Olympiads. Vantika Agarwal and 15-year-old Divya Deshmukh are the fresh faces.
Interestingly, Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali will be the second set of siblings to represent India at the same Olympiad after N Saritha and N Sudhakar Babu represented India at the 1988 at Thessaloniki, Greece.
INDIAN TEAM 1
- GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (2723)
- GM Pentala Harikrishna (2705)
- GM Arjun Erigaisi (2675)
- GM S L Narayanan (2662)
- GM K. Sasikiran (2651)
INDIAN TEAM 2
- GM Nihal Sarin (2646)
- GM D Gukesh (2659)
- GM Adhiban B (2616)
- GM R Praggananandha (2642)
- GM Raunak Sadhwani (2619)
INDIAN WOMEN TEAM 1
- GM Koneru Humpy (2586)
- GM Harika Dronavali (2517)
- IM Vaishali R (2403)
- IM Tania Sachdev (2399)
- IM Bhakti Kulkarni (2370)
INDIAN WOMEN TEAM 2
- WGMVantika Agarwal (2371)
- IM Soumya Swaminathan (2358)
- WGM Mary Ann Gomes (2349)
- IM Padmini Rout (2348)
- WGM Divya Deshmukh (2317).