A third Indian team managed to get a last-minute entry into the Open section of the 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled at Mahabalipuram from 28th July to 10th August. A record-breaking 187 teams, the highest ever for a Chess Olympiad registered and to even out the entries, FIDE gave a nod for the third team as is the norm. This means a wonderful opportunity for 5 more players to get the best platform in the world showcase their skills. Each country can field only one Team of 5 players (4 playing in every round) but India as the host country is entitled to field 2 Teams.
Grandmasters Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Karthikeyan Murali, Sethuraman, Abhijeet Gupta and Abhimanyu Puranik comprise the third Indian team with Gujrat’s first GM, Tejas Bakre as their Captain.
“This is the best gift India could ever get! Difficult to imagine even in the wildest dreams that 25 Indians would be competing together in an Olympiad. As Organizers of the Olympiad and officials of the All India Chess Federation (AICF), this is the proudest moment for us” beamed Bharat Singh Chauhan, Secretary AICF and also the Olympiad Director.
Ganguly a six-time National Champion was Anand’s second in 4 World Championships and has represented India in 6 Chess Olympiads. S P Sethuraman is also a former National Champion and was a part of the bronze medal-winning Indian team at Tromso Olympiad in 2014.
Abhijeet Gupta was the third Indian to win the World Junior title after Viswanathan Anand and Pentala Harikrishna and is the only Indian to win the Commonwealth title on 5 occassions. Abhijeet has also won an Individual silver medal at the Istanbul Olympiad in 2012. 23-year-old Karthikeyan Murali has also won the National title twice and will be making his debut for India at the Olympiad with 22-year-old Abhimanyu Puranik.
Surya Shekhar Ganguly summed “Nothing could be more exciting or thrilling to be playing in an Olympiad again after a long time and first time as a father is also a super happy feeling”
The Women’s section attracted 162 teams, the highest ever, and India has two teams in this section.