Next couple of rounds will be acid test for Indian chess Olympiad team

Chennai, Sep 10 (IANS) The Indian men’s team’s real battle for a medal at the chess Olympiad has begun with the seventh round against the US, game experts said.

Though the Indian men failed in their first acid test against much stronger US team consisting of three World ranked players in the seventh round on Friday not all medal hopes are lost.

The US comprehensively beat India 3.5-0.5 points.Experts also said the Indian players have to hold their nerves in the coming rounds as they will be fighting queens, bishops, rooks, horses and even pawns all backed with different strategies so that their King does not get mated.

At the same time, the Indian players need to strategise with their queens, bishops, rooks, horses and also pawns to mate their opponent’s King.

“The stage for the battle ahead has been set now. The Indian men’s team may have to face all or any one-two of the top teams like China, Russia and Ukraine in the coming rounds. What the Indian team does against them will be crucial,” Grandmaster (GM) Abhijit Kunte told IANS.

“Performance of the team in the last two-three rounds is very important to secure a podium finish. Notching up a lead may be important, but it is not of much significance at this juncture,” International Master (IM) V. Saravanan told IANS.

“Our players held their nerves against the Netherlands and when an opportunity was presented they won or drew their games. They should do the same in the coming rounds,” Saravanan added.

Saravanan said the top chess-playing nations have several single and double super stars and taking them on every other round is not an easy task. With India being one of the top scorers till now in the Olympiad, it will be meeting teams with highly rated players round after round.

“Playing against a GM with an ELO rating of 2,700-plus round after round is not easy and it is a very high-pressure proposition. In individual tournaments, one will not be playing against a strong opponent round after round,” Kunte said.

“On reaching the ELO points of 2,700, playing against similar or higher rated players is very tough. The preparations needed to play at that level are tougher than many other sports,” Saravanan said.

On the 15-move draw by Gujrathi with white pieces against his Dutch rival Loek van Wely in the sixth round, Kunte said: “In a way it shows that colour of the pieces does not make much of a difference for this Indian team. The Indian players have won with black pieces.”

However, an IM preferring anonymity told IANS: “At that level a GM is not expected to make miscalculations in the opening phase of the game.”

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

–IANS

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