India got off to a flying start in their defence of the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad, winning two matches and drawing one in Pool B on the opening day of Top Division action on Wednesday.
India, who shared rhe title with Russia in 2020, are in the 10-team Pool B in the competition in which 40 teams have been divided into four groups of 10 teams each, the top two teams from which will qualify for the knockout stages.
India started brilliantly by beating Egypt 6-0 in the first round of the nine-round league. Skipper Viswanathan Anand defeated Egypt’s top player Ahmed Adly, B Adhiban got the better of Adham Fawzy with black pieces; Tania Sachdev defeated lower-ranked Shahenza Wafa; Bhakti Kulkarni defeated Ayah Moaataz; R Praggnanandhaa beat Adham Kandil and R Vaishali beat Sara Adel as India made a clean sweep on all boards.
The second-round match against France, however, proved a bit tough for India as Anand was held to draw by Etienne Bacrot while Vidit Santosh Gujrathi had to share the point with Yannik Gozzoli and Koneru Humpy was held by Marie Sehag. Harika Dronavalli was also held to a draw but R Praggnanandhaa lost to International Master (IM) Andria Maurizi, a player rated nearly 500 points lower than him. However, his sister R Vaishali salvaged the match for India by beating Florence Rollot with black pieces as both India and France ended with three points each.
In the third match of the day, India defeated Sweden 4-2 with Pentala Harikrishna, B. Adhiban, and Nihal Sarin winning their games while Humpy and Tania were held to draws. B Savita Shri’s defeat to Margarita Zaritovskaja on the last board was the lone setback for India in this round.
Thus at the end of the third round, India were placed second with five points, one behind Hungary — who won all their three matches — as teams get two points for winning a match and one for a draw.
France and Moldova were sharing the third spot with four points each while Azerbaijan was fifth with three points. Slovenia, Sweden, Belarus, Shenzhen China, and Egypt are the other teams in Pool B.