CHENNAI: India has been performing well in team events in recent times. The year 2016 turned out to be a good one for the team as they triumphed in the Asian Team Chess Championship, besides finishing fourth at the Chess Olympiad. With the team constantly making progress, India will be aiming for a medal in the Open section of the World Team Chess Championship, which starts in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, on Friday. Russia, China, Ukraine, Poland and USA are the other strong teams competing in the 10-team, nine-round round-robin tournament.
Winning a bronze in 2009 has been India’s best in this biennial event. Krishnan Sasikiran, Vidit Gujrathi and Baskaran Adhiban hold the key. The trio’s form augurs well for the team. Sasikiran is on a high after winning the Capablanca Memorial, while Vidit and Adhiban have done well in the first half of 2016. While Vidit bagged a bronze medal at the Asian Championship, Adhiban surprised all, coming third behind world champion Magnus Carlsen at the Tata Steel Masters. Parimarjan Negi and Karthikeyan Murali are the other members of the team. Negi, who took a break from chess to study at the Stanford University, will be playing after a long hiatus. The last time he played a big event was the 2014 Chess Olympiad when India won a historic bronze medal.
“We are seeded sixth in the Open section. Some top players might be missing this year as the Grand Chess Tour is starting immediately after this tournament. Considering that most of our players are in good form, we can expect to do very well. We are confident of a good show,” said India coach RB Ramesh.
“I feel India have chances of winning a medal in both the sections. Return of Sasikiran should bolster India’s chances. Negi is playing after a long time, so he could be unpredictable,” reflected GM Sundararajan Kidambi.
Russia and China are the joint-favourites. Even without Vladimir Kramnik and Sergei Karjakin, Russia has a strong team with the likes of Ian Nepomniachtchi and Peter Svidler in the fray. With China having their top three players in the team: Ding Liren, Yu Yangyi and Wei Yi, they will fancy their chances of retaining the title.
In the women’s section, Dronavalli Harika’s form on the top board will be crucial for the team. The return of veteran Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman should also help the team. “We are going to start as the sixth seed. We are not favourites on paper but nothing is impossible,” said an optimistic Harika on women’s chances in the event. “To be confident and positive,” said Harika.
Teams: Open: Vidit Gujrathi, K Sasikiran, B Adhiban, P Negi, Karthikeyan Murali; Women: D Harika, Tania Sachdev, S Vijayalakshmi, Eesha Karavade, Padmini Rout.