India got the golden opportunity to host the 44th Chess Olympiad. Earlier, the tournament was supposed to be held at Moscow, Russia. However, FIDE decided to shift the venue after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is also the reason why Russian team is not a part of the 44th Chess Olympiad. All India Chess Federation pounced on the opportunity when the bidding for the host nation was restarted.
Since India is the host, it gets to field two teams for the tournament. This means that India has boosted its chances of securing medals. This is also the first time India is hosting two teams. This is the largest ever contingent that India has ever fielded. Let’s take a look at the Indian contingent packed with stalwarts of Indian Chess.
Five-times World Champion Viswanathan Anand decided not to play in the Olympiad. It was time to give chances to younger players since he has already played several Olympiads, he said. However, he has taken on a new role as the mentor of the Indian contingent. Thus, he will be included in the Olympiad along with the Indian teams.
He led the Indian team to victory in the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad 2020. Vidit is currently the second highest-rated Indian player with a rating of 2714. He is one of the best players in the nation’s history with Vishy Anand as the only Indian player ahead of him. Vidit’s experience in the Olympiad and his excellent positional sense are great assets to the Indian team and the overall contingent.
He is the third-highest rated Indian chess player with a rating of 2720 points. In 2001, he had become the youngest Grandmaster from India at the age of 14 years. However, GM Gukesh D broke Pentala’s record a few years later. Pentala represented India in seven consecutive Olympiads from 2000 to 2012. Nevertheless, he was not a part of the gold medal-winning Indian team of 2020 Online Chess Olympiad. However, has returned to Team 1 of India for the 44th Chess Olympiad.
He is a Grandmaster from Telangana. Also, he is the 9th highest-ranked player in India with a rating of 2633. Arjun won the 58th MPL National Championship in March 2022. That makes him the reigning national champion. At the age of 18 years, Arjun is the youngest member of Team 1 from India.
He is the 41st Grandmaster of India. With a rating of 2658, Narayanan is the 4th highest-ranked player from India, only after Vishy Anand, Vidit Gujarathi, and Pentala Harikrishna. Narayanan was a member of Bronze-winning Indian team at the Under-16 Chess Olympiad in 2012. He is making his Olympiad debut in the Open category with the 44th Chess Olympiad.
He is the 6th highest-rated Indian player with a rating of 2650. Krishnan was a second to Vishy Anand during the World Chess Championship of 2013. He was part of the Bronze-winning Indian team at the 41st Chess Olympiad held in Tromso, Norway. Along with Vidit, he is the only other player who has been a part of a medal winning Indian team at the Chess Olympiad.
The second team fielded by India is packed with young guns with an average rating of 2649. The players of Team 2 are Nihail Sarain (18), D Gukesh (16), B Adhiban (29), R Praggnanandhaa (16), and Raunak Sadhwan (16). The average age of Team 2 is 19 years old. These youngsters are the future of Indian chess, and are geared up for the 44th Chess Olympiad. India Team 2 is 12th seeded team for this edition of the Olympiad.
AICF (All India Chess Federation) announced on July 3 that India is going to field another tea, in the Open Category. This means that India now has three teams in the Open Category, and two teams in Women’s category. Thus, this move expanded the already big Indian contingent.
This article is written by Bandish Oza. The author is a student currently pursuing BA English Honors at Christ University, Bangalore.