As chess makes a return to the Asian Games after 12 years, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) is hopeful of a rich haul of medals from their men’s and women’s teams when the quadrennial continental showpiece begins eight months from new.
The Asian Games are scheduled to commence in the Chinese city of Hangzhou from September 10 and chess will be part of the curriculum after missing two editions — 2014 Incheon and 2018 Jakarta. The sport was part of the 2010 Guangzhou curriculum when India won the men’s team and women’s individual (rapid) bronze.
India’s best performance in the sport came at the 2006 Doha Asian Games when they won two gold, with Koneru Humpy bagging the top position in women’s rapid individual event.
Aiming to make a big difference from the Guangzhou Games, AICF has started the preparation in advance by selecting 10 probables in the men’s and women’s section. The team has been selected on the basis of their International Rating and Vidit Gujarathi, P Harikrishna, Nihal Sarin, SL Narayanan, K Sasikiran, B Adhiban, Karthikeyan Murali, Arjun Erigaisi, Abhijeet Gupta and Surya Shekhar Ganguly have made the cut in the men’s team.
The women’s team will be selected from among K Humpy, D Harika, Vaishali R, Tania Sachdev, Bhakti Kulkarni, Vantika Agrawal, Mary Ann Gomes, Soumya Swaminathan and Eesha Karavade.
The selection committee consisting of Abhijit Kunte, Dibeyandu Barua and Dinesh Sharma will decide the final list of five players in April.
Eyeing the four gold medals at stake in the Games, legendary Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand will be mentoring the team and the first session between him and players will kick start on February 3.
The chess event at the Games will start on September 11 and will be played in two formats. The Individual Event for men and women will be played in Rapid Time Control from September 11 to 14, while the four-board five-member Team Event will be played under Standard Time Control from September 16 to 24.