Magnus Carlsen makes a grand entry, Indian teams keep winning
All six Indian teams won their second round matches at the Chess Olympiad on Saturday.
One corner of the main venue at the 44th Chess Olympiad was buzzing with activity on Saturday afternoon. More than 40 camerapersons were in position while some others were there simply as observers. The magnet was Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen whose presence had drawn them all there. A Kenyan player even approached Carlsen for an autograph just before his match, though the world No 1 politely declined the request.
Once his game began, Carlsen was in his zone. He was anyway not going to be overly troubled by his Uruguayan opponent Georg Meier. The contest came to a close after a little over five hours and Carlsen was on top in the end game. His teammates Aryan Tari and Johan-Sebastian Christiansen also registered victories for the third seeds against Uruguay’s Alejandro Hoffman and Rosselli Mailhe respectively.
For the second day in a row, all the six Indian teams in action—three each in the open and women’s sections—posted wins. It wasn’t as easy as the opening day though when all of them had 4-0 wins.
In the open section, the first Indian team, seeded second behind the United States, defeated Moldova 3.5-0.5. Pentala Harikrishna was featuring in the tournament for the first time. He beat International Master (IM) Ivan Schitco with black pieces.
SL Narayanan and Krishnan Sasikiran also had no trouble in extending their winning run. Only Arjun Erigaisi faced a stumbling block with the 18-year-old from Telangana having to draw with Andrei Macovei.
India B registered the most comprehensive victory on the day. Carlsen has already raised expectations of this team by saying that they pose a greater threat than Harikrishna's team, and will justify their top billing. Against Estonia on Saturday, B Adhiban, R Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh and Raunak Sadhwani won their respective battles. Praggnanandhaa came into the team in place of Nihal Sarin.
India C came through a hard-fought encounter against Mexico. With Surya Shekhar Ganguly, SP Sethuraman and Abhijeet Gupta only managing half-a-point each, Karthikeyan Murali’s victory against Uriel Capo Vidal proved decisive in ensuring they added two match points to their tally.
In women, Tania Sachdev, R Vaishali and Bhakti Kulkarni gave the top Indian team victory over Argentina. Koneru Humpy’s game against Marisa Zuriel was drawn.
India B beat Latvia 3.5-0.5 while India C cruised to a 3-1 victory over Singapore.
In other notable results in the women’s section, second seed Ukraine defeated Turkey 3-1 despite world No 5 Mariya Muzychuk losing to Ekaterina Atalik.
The United States were runaway favourites coming into the Olympiad in the open section, but not everything has gone to plan for them. After Levon Aronian was held on Friday, it was the turn of Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Sam Shankland to play out draws. Caruana, ranked fourth in the world, was held by Paraguay’s Axel Bachmann in his first game of the tournament. That the US still notched up two match points was due to Leinier Dominguez. The Cuban-American, playing with white pieces, defeated Jose Fernando Cubas in 31 moves.