Confirmation of the fact that Indian chess doesn’t begin and end with Viswanathan Anand came in Turkey earlier this month when India finished third in the World Team Chess Championship. This was the first time India played in this competition.
That India did better than superpowers like Israel and Azerbaijan was commendable and although the credit goes to all six team members — K. Sasikiran, P. Harikrishna, Surya Sekhar Ganguly, G.N. Gopal. S. Arun Prasad and B. Adhiban — one man put up an exemplary show to ensure Indian finished only behind winners Russia and USA.
It was Grandmaster Ganguly, 27, who shone the brightest securing five points from seven rounds (he was rested in two), which fetched him a gold medal for the best performance on the third board.
Every team has to nominate a player for each of the four boards according to their ratings and the best performer on the four boards is given a gold medal.
“It’s a remarkable achievement because it was a team event and my performance helped India clinch bronze,” the Asian champion and six-time successive national champion told HT. “It’s the strongest team championship in the world and that we left behind two-time Chess Olympiad winners Armenia makes it all the more memorable.”
“More than the gold medal, the way I played made me happier. I was equal or better in all the games and never got into a disadvantageous position,” said Ganguly whose Elo rating is 2654.
The average rating of the players he met in Turkey was a formidable 2646. Ganguly is expected to cross 2670 when the next ratings list comes out in March.
Ganguly chose the games against Azerbaijan’s Gadir Guseinov and Israel’s Evgeny Postny as the most important ones. “Against Azerbaijan, Gopal lost early and we were under pressure. They were naturally on a high and it was crucial that I won my game to secure a win for us.”Against Israel, Sasikiran and I had white.
The ploy was that those with black would go for draws and the other two would look to win. Since Sasi was playing Boris Gelfand, it was difficult for him to press for a win.
All three drew their games and my win sealed victory for us. That was crucial.”
Right now, Ganguly is concentrating on playing well, oblivious of rating points. “The gold medal is fine, but my focus is on playing well outside India. I’m happy with the way I’m playing and waiting for invitations from abroad.”
The way he is going, the team member of Viswanathan Anand’s successful world championship campaign against Vladimir Kramnik might not have to wait for long.