World Online Chess Olympiad: Defending champion India in high spirits

Led by the five-time World champion Viswanathan Anand, the Indian chess team appeared in high spirits ahead of the second World Online Chess Olympiad in Chennai.

India, the defending champion, will be fielding a 12-member side for the tournament starting September 8. They will compete from a city hotel, except P. Harikrishna (from Prague), Koneru Humpy (from Vijayawada) and D. Harika (from Hyderabad).

“I found it difficult playing at home last time. This time we are all together on the same floor [of the hotel],  and the atmosphere is very positive,” said Anand.

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On India’s chances in Group ‘B’ with countries such as France and Belarus in the mix, Anand said: “It is better if we do not let expectations get ahead of us. All teams are strong. We have to be on guard.”

There are 40 teams in the Top Division, and the top two teams from four groups will make it to the play-off stage (quarterfinals).

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Top player Humpy is aware of the expectations. “We have to start from the beginning and enjoy the game. I am sure we will achieve success,” she said.

According to Bharat Singh Chauhan, Secretary of All India Chess Federation (AICF), there were quite a few Internet issues in the maiden Online World Olympiad last year. “This time, Microsense being the best in the business is providing the best of [Internet] facilities. Internet will not be an issue here,” he said.

AICF President Sanjay Kapoor said he is determined to “change the profile of chess through various programs. COVID-19 came in between, but nothing can stop us,” he said.

The Indian team: Viswanathan Anand, Vidit Gujarati, P. Harikrishna, B. Adhiban, Nihal Sarin, Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika, Tania Sachdev, Bhakti Kulkarni, R. Vaishali, R. Praggnandhaa & Savitha Shri.

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