Chess Olympiad 2022, Viswanathan Anand Exclusive Column: So many Indian teams, don’t know who to root for


The players enjoyed a much-needed rest day after five rounds of intense chess. If we analyse the results of these rounds – from the Indian perspective – India 2, and especially D. Gukesh with this perfect score, stand out.   

But, while everyone is buzzing about this, some other great performances have gone unnoticed. It’s not like India 1 is an anonymity. But people have focused on these guys (from India 2) more. Yesterday we realised how strong P. Harikrishna’s has played. He made a couple of draws and people took their eyes off him. But he’s on a very strong +3 score. He is gaining a lot of rating points here.

India 3 also has the same number of points. So, all our three teams are bunched together. Different routes there, but it’s great that they are all there.  

I haven’t talked about Armenia so far. But in the end, you must give them credit. They’re a balanced team, they take a hit on this board and that board, but in the end, they pull through. It was their formula before, even when they were slightly top-heavy with Levon (Aronian).

The full team knew how to play and that’s why they have won the Olympiad so many times.  

Coming to India’s women’s teams, India 1 is leading with Koneru Humpy on +2, Tania Sachdev and R. Vaishali are both +4 and Bhakti Kulkarni on +3. That is really an amazingly coordinated performance. Full credit to all our teams and their trainers, who are working very hard.

I had the chance to meet with them yesterday before the Bermuda Party and hang out with Srinath (Narayanan) and the India 1 team. Then I met R.B. Ramesh, then Shyam Sundar and I have kept in touch with Tejas Bakre.  

So, I know all the Indian teams are doing very well. Though, it’s slightly confusing because you have so many of Indian teams doing well, you don’t even know which one to root for.

India 1 will play India 3 in the seventh round and let’s see how it goes. Amongst the girls, the other two teams are on nine points, behind India 1 at 12. But they are still within distance of many of the other top teams. So hopefully, they will benefit from the rest day.

Though, Armenia lead by two points, the USA, too, are pulling through even though none of their players are yet to reach their peak. Fabiano Caruana was able to win his first game yesterday, pulling it through against a tough Iranian team and got the USA team over.

As for Norway, Magnus Carlsen is doing what he normally does, but the others haven’t exactly helped. You know the timing is sometimes off. Instead of balancing each other out, sometimes two or three of them have a bad day at the same time. I think the rest of the team is struggling a bit but it’s obviously nice for them because they can depend on Magnus, who is almost invincible on Board 1.

This is an Olympiad that has a competitive balance. Every round is exciting. 

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