Chess Olympiad 2022, Viswanathan Anand Exclusive Column: Raunak’s win shouldn’t be lost in justified praise for Gukesh


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I’m still ecstatic that India 2 has beaten the USA 3-1. Raunak Sandhwani won an incredible game and I hope it doesn’t get lost in the justified praise of Gukesh’s win. Gukesh beat Fabiano Caruana and it’s hard to explain what a huge upset that was. Fabiano is one of the world’s absolute top players for the last eight years. He’s been World No. 2 two, or very close by, for the last eight years. So it shows a little bit just what Gukesh has accomplished with the black pieces.

There was a point in the game where Fabiano could repeat the moves three times. Fabiano declined it and Gukesh punished him. His calculation, execution, everything was flawless in what was a very different, difficult position. Just an amazing result.

By the way, I don’t have an idea if 8/8 wins for Gukesh might just be an all-time record. I simply cannot recall a score like. I recall, Kramnik scored 8.5 from nine rounds in 1992 but I guess, he did not score eight wins on the trot.

In fact, earlier in the match, Raunak came up with, what was for me, just the most amazing move, that knight-sacrifice! I think he found it on the board which makes it so much harder. It is easy to see with the computer, but at the board to see it. It’s just phenomenal. So it was very good that Raunak rested for two days and it seems to have done him a lot of good.

After this, he conducted it flawlessly for a beautiful win. The domination using his queenside pawns, kingside pawns all these double rook-pawns, but pinning the black knight and winning the game. So, a phenomenal result for us.

Nihal was better but I think Levon never allowed it to get very serious. And there was one more draw involving Praggnanandha.

Armenia did beat India 1 to stay in the lead. Harikrishna’s defeat is obviously a blow and a surprise because normally he is one of the best defenders around. From our perspective, that’s a pity because it also allows Armenia to retain its lead and its tough for India 1. On the other hand, the really good news is R. Vaishali holding that game, not the most glamorous or fantastic game. But at the end of the tournament, we may look back and think that holding Ukraine to a draw was a very important moment in our campaign. India 3 women had a very bad day but India 2 women had a good day.

Against a formidable Poland, for India 3, Eesha and Vishwa drew but P. V. Nandhidhaa and Pratyusha Bodda lost on the middle boards. On the brighter side, against Croatia, India 2 won against Vantika, Padmin iand Divya won. But overall, a tough day was made memorable by our boys from India 2. I’m out of superlatives.





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