All six Indian teams off to winning start as hosts dominate on Day 1

Chennai: Six Indian teams, including three in the women’s section, kickstarted their campaigns on a brilliant note by registering comfortable victories on the opening day of the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram, Chennai on Friday.

The Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur inaugurated the opening day of the historic event by making the first move on Vidit Gujrathi’s board. Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, All India Chess Federation President Sanjay Kapoor and Olympiad Director Bharat Singh Chauhan were also present on the occasion. 

The 16-year-old Raunak Sadhwani began the campaign for India B with a solid start in the Open section by registering a stunning win against Abdulrahman M. Later, Nihal Sarin, D Gukesh, B Adhiban also won comfortably as India B beat United Arab Emirates by 4-0.

The 16-year-old form Nagpur, playing his maiden Olympiad, completed the win with the White pieces in a Sicilian defence game lasting 41 moves. Enjoying space advantage, Sadhwani broke through on the king side after the exchange of minor pieces and dragged the king in a checkmating net with the queen and rooks combining efficiently.

“I am happy to start with a victory. This is my first Olympiad. It feels great to play a good game,” Sadhwani said after the victory.

“We want to play good chess. I think the US has the strongest line up but if we play good chess, we can even beat them. We should take all the teams seriously as any player can play well. This is the Olympiad,” he added.

Meanwhile, Indian A and India C also emerged victorious in their opening round matches of the open section. Vidit Gujrathi, Arjun Erigaisi, Narayanan SL and Sasikaran Krishnan contributed in the India A’s 4-0 against Zimbabwe while SP Sethuraman, Abhijeet Gupta, Murali Karthikeyan and Abhimanyu Puranik ensured unbeaten run for the hosts in the open section and guided India C to a 4-0 win against South Sudan.

Top seeded 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.

Meanwhile, Indian women too produced dominating performances as all the three teams blanked out their respective opponents by identical 4-0 margins.

Koneru Humpy led the strong show of India A against Tajikistan in the women’s section as she defeated N Antoneva. Tania Sachdev, R Vaishali and Bhakti Kulkarni also impressed in India A’s win. 

Seeded 16th, India C team was the first to finish their match, winning with an expected and anticipated 4-0 victory over Hong Kong. Eesha Karavade, PV Nandhidhaa, M Varshini Sahiti and Pratyusha Bodda took part in the match for India C.

Vantika Agrawal, Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes and Divya Deshmukh guided India B to victory against Wales.

A total of 184 teams out of 188 sides began their campaign on Friday in this 11 Round Swiss League tournament where India’s three sides are taking part in the open section.

Each Team comprises five players with four players fielded for the round and one player rested.

For the first time in the history, India has been hosting this prestigious event which will be played till August 10.

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