CHENNAI: India defeated Norway 3-1 in the ninth and final round to finish fourth in the Open section of the World Team Chess Championship, which concluded in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, on Monday. China (16 match points) retained their title with a 2.5-1.5 win over Poland. Russia (15) took silver and Poland (12) bronze.
India won five matches, lost three and drew one to secure 11 match points.
Despite missing out on the podium, it was a good performance by the team, who had suffered losses in the first two rounds. A strong recovery kept them in medal contention till their narrow 1.5-2.5 loss to Russia in the penultimate round.
Vidit Gujrathi was rock solid on the top board, holding his own against higher-ranked players.
Remaining unbeaten, he scored 5 out of 9 points, including an impressive victory over Polish No 1 Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Baskaran Adhiban (5.5/9) played the most number of decisive games (eight) for the team. His victories over Vladislav Kovalev and Anton Korobov on the second board were instrumental in India’s wins over Belarus and Ukraine, respectively.
Krishnan Sasikiran, who is India’s most accomplished player in team tournaments, performed well on the fourth board (4.5/7) and had the best performance rating (2,723) among Indian players. Parimarjan Negi, who is competing in a big event after a gap of more than two years, surprised one and all with his consistent play. He ended up with a 50% score (4/8). Karthikeyan Murali (1.5/3), the youngest member of the team, fared reasonably well in the limited opportunities he got.
“After the unexpected loss in the first two rounds to Poland and China, the men made a strong comeback, defeating strong teams like USA, Ukraine and Belarus, while also almost defeating Russia in the eighth round. Indian players showed they have the ability to fight back from reverses. They’re also becoming more assured of themselves,” said coach RB Ramesh on India’s showing in the premier team event.
“Vidit is fast nearing the 2,700 mark in ratings, and could have achieved it many times in this event. In every game he was either clearly better or close to winning but unfortunately, could not convert them into wins. India have a bright star in Vidit,” reflected Ramesh on Vidit’s impressive play.
Indian women tied for third spot with Georgia and Ukraine (12 match points) but settled for fourth spot owing to lesser tie-break than the former. Russia (16) clinched gold in this event for the first time. China (13) came second.
Eesha Karavade (4.5/7, 3rd board) and Padmini Rout (5/8, 4th board) were the team’s best performers. Their best player, Dronavalli Harika, started with a victory over Georgian No 1 Nana Dzagnidze (4/8, 1st board), but her loss to lowly-rated Wafa Shrook, and six draws, resulted in a slightly below-par show. Tania Sachdev’s (3.5/7, 2nd board) score could have been better but for her loss in the last round. Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman (3/6, 5th board), who is competing in a team tournament after a long time, had a disappointing tournament.
“The women narrowly missed bronze and finished fourth, matching their initial seeding. Padmini and Eesha played well,” was how Ramesh summed up the women’s performance.
Final Placings: Open (Top 5): 1. China (16) 2. Russia (15) 3. Poland (12) 4. India (11)
5. Turkey 10.
Women: 1. Russia (16) 2. China (13) 3-5: Georgia, India, Ukraine (12).
Scores of Indian players: Open: Vidit Gujrathi 5/9, B Adhiban 5.5/9, Karthikeyan Murali 1.5/3, K Sasikiran 4.5/7, P Negi 4/8.
Women: D Harika 4/8, Tania Sachdev 3.5/7, Eesha Karavade 4.5/7, Padmini Rout 5/8, S Vijayalakshmi 3/6.