Led by Koneru Humpy on the top board, the top-seeded Indian women’s team asserted their supremacy on the lower-ranked Tajikistan in the first round of the 44th Chess Olympiad that finally got underway on the Chess Board after a glittering opening ceremony on Thursday.
In what turned out to be a short hassle due to huge media present to cover the event, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, Mr. Anurag Thakur – The Union Cabinet Minister for the Information and Broadcasting as well as Sports in India, Mr. S Meyyanathan, Sports Minister Tamil Nadu, Dr. Sanjay Kapoor, President AICF made the symbolic first moves on a few boards.
Meanwhile, there were no upsets on the opening day as almost all the seasoned teams scored identical 4-0 victories. Notable among them were second seed Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, France, Azerbaijan and USA. Teams like Germany, Armenia and Kazakhstan also maintained a clean slate winning all the games on all four boards.
The Chess Olympiad is a massive event having the participation of 185 countries in all the open and women’s section.
If the Indian eves were stretched a little by the Tajik women, second seed Ukraine was quite brutal in stamping their authority over South Africa.
Anna Mujychuk disposed of the challenge of Jesse February, a popular steamer and the current African champion, and Anna Ushenine coasted to a crushing victory over Badenhorst.
On the remaining two boards, it was also smooth sailing for the Ukrainian ladies that reminded them of their strong presence here in the absence of Russia and China.
Jesse February (RSA) lost to GM Anna Muzychuk (Ukr)
GM Anna Ushenina (Ukr) beat Badenhorst (RSA)
Selkirk (RSA) lost to N Buksa (Ukr)
Yuliia Osmak (Ukr) beat Denise Bouah
The Chess Olympiad is played under FIDE’s Swiss rules with 11 rounds, and the winner is awarded based on the match points. Each winning team comprising four participating plus one rested player, gets two match points for each win.
In case of a tied result after the end of the event, the game points (the total number of points scored by a team board by board) come into effect. If still tied, the tie is further resolved till a winner can be reached.
The winner of the last Olympiad, China, abstained from the event without assigning many reasons, but a general guess is the impact of Covid that stalled the chess activities and tournament for almost 18-20 months across the globe.
Russian women are the other notable absentees due to the sanctions by FIDE after the war with Ukraine. With China and Russia out of the fray, the focus is on the Indian team that is the top seed for the first time in the event ever. Apart from Humpy, a lot has been spoken about 8-month pregnant Harika, who decided to play.
A real challenge could also come from Georgia team, a former winner with some seasoned campaigners.
“This is the biggest platform in the world for chess players, and it gives me immense pleasure to launch the first move of the event. I have been Chairman of the last FIFA world cup in Russia, but Chess remains my first love. It is indeed a pleasure to see that the organization has made some great efforts to ensure maximum comfort in stay, a fantastic venue and some brilliant facilities”, sa