CHENNAI: India’s sports minister Vijay Goel had created headlines for all the wrong reasons in Rio during the Olympics. Now its the turn of Latvia’s finance minister to grab the attention of the sporting world. Unlike Goel, she is doing it for all the right reasons.
On Monday, Latvia’s Minister of Finance and woman grandmaster (WGM) Dana Reizniece-Ozola stunned World No 1 China’s Hou Yifan in Round 4 of the 42nd Chess Olympiad being held in Baku. The 34-year-old, a former junior European champion, took a moment to digest her victory, staring blankly at the board for an instant before cupping her mouth with disbelief. Her victory though was unable to prevent the Latvian women’s team from going down 1.5-2.5 to China.
“In the women’s section the biggest attention was attached to the victory of Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Latvia’s top board and also the country’s Minister for Finance, against the world champion Hou Yifan. China still emerged on the top with wins of Ju Wenjun and Guo Qi,” FIDE said in their official post-day press release. Reizniece-Ozola is currently ranked 318th in the world and has an ELO rating of 2,243. She has represented Latvia in seven Olympiads, the first of those coming in 1998 when she was just 17. Chess and politics aren’t the only areas where Reizniece-Ozola has made an impact. She was the project manager for Latvia’s first ever satellite and has degrees in business, law and linguistics.
India had mixed fortunes in the round, with the men’s team continuing their perfect start, smashing Cuba 2.5-1.5. P Harikrishna, SP Sethuraman and B Adhiban drew with their opponents, but Vidit Gujrathi clinched the round for India with a win over Yuniesky Quesada Perez. India had earlier defeated Azerbaijan, Costa Rica and Bolivia in their first three rounds.
The women’s team fared worse, being held by Israel 2-2. Dronavalli Harika and Soumya Swaminathan played out draws but Padmini Rout lost to Marsel Efroimski. It was left to Tania Sachdev to rescue India with a win over Masha Klinova.
India results ( Round 4)
Men | India 2.5: 1.5 Cuba
P Harikrishna drew Leinier Perez; B Adhiban drew Lazaro Batista; Vidit Gujrathi beat Yuniesky Perez; SP Sethuraman drew Isan Suarez.
Women | India 2:2 Israel
Harika Dronavalli drew Yuliya Shvayger; Padmini Rout lost to Marsel Efroimski; Tania Sachdev beat Masha Klinova; Soumya Swaminathan drew Olga Gutmakher.