Chess Olympiad: India 'B' team bags bronze in Open section, D Gukesh stars with 8 wins

The top-seeded India 'A' women's team crashed to a 1-3 defeat in the 11th and final round to USA to finish third and also won a bronze.
India 'B' chess players dressed in suits
India 'B' chess players dressed in suits
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The India 'B' team settled for a bronze medal in the Open section while the India 'A' women's side also finished third in the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram on Tuesday, August 9. India 'B' defeated Germany 3-1 in their final round match to end at third position.

Uzbekistan sprung a surprise by bagging the gold medal with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands ahead of a strong Armenian team, which beat Spain 2.5-1.5 in the final round, in the Open section. Uzbekistan and Armenia secured 19 match points each while India scored 18.

The top-seeded India 'A' women's team crashed to a 1-3 defeat in the 11th and final round to USA to see it's gold medal hopes evaporate. The Koneru Humpy-led team finished third. It was India's first-ever medal at the Olympiad in the women's section.

India 'A', USA and Kazakhstan tied for third place but the home team clinched the bronze.

War-torn Ukraine won an emotional gold in the women's event, pipping Georgia to the top prize.

In the Open section, Uzbekistan beat the Netherlands in the final round thanks to Jakhongir Vakhidov's win on board 4. They edged out Armenia on the basis of a better tie-break score. The Uzbeks remained unbeaten through the 11 rounds and finished with 19 match points. India 'A' took the fourth spot.

It was the second bronze medal for India in the Open section in the Olympiad, replicating its feat in the 2014 edition.

The experienced B Adhiban, who was part of the team in 2014, added to his medal collection while it was the first for young stars D Gukesh, who was in spectacular form during the tournament, R Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin and Raunak Sadhwani.

Speaking after winning the bronze medal, Gukesh, who played all 11 games and tallied nine points after winning eight, drawing two and losing one game, said, “Overall, it has been a very enjoyable event. I didn't expect us to perform so well but it could have been better. We could have had a great chance at a gold medal if I had won or drawn my game yesterday (on Monday). 

But these things happen. Immediately after the game I was devastated and our mentor (Viswanathan) Anand put me in a better frame of mind by saying that these things happen in sport and he too was at the receiving end himself,” he added.

In the women's section, top player Koneru Humpy and R Vaishali drew their games against Gulrukhba Tokhirjonova and Irina Krush respectively. The defeats for Tania Sachdev at the hands of Carissa Yip and Bhakthi Kulkarni to Tatev Abrahamyan hurt the India 'A' team's chances of a gold medal.

India 'A' team coach Abhijit Kunte was all praise for the team. The team has worked really hard in the last three or four months and this is India's first-ever medal in the history of the Olympics, this should be the beginning of much better days for women's chess in India." 

Medals galore for India 

Besides medals in the team events, it rained medals for India in individual section with as many as seven Indians winning medals -- two gold, one silver and four bronze. 

Gukesh and Sarin won gold on top and second board respectively while Arjun Erigaisi secured silver medal on third board. R Praggnanandhaa (third board), R Vaishali (third board), Tania Sachdev (third board) and Divya Deshmukh (reserve board) claimed individual bronze medals.

India also won the prestigious Gaprindashvili Cup. It is given to the nation for their collective performance in both open and women's sections. It was also for the first time India hosted the world's biggest chess tournament.

Arjun Erigaisi crosses 2700 ELO rating 

Grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi became the seventh Indian to cross the 2700 ELO rating. The 18-year old achieved the feat when he defeated GM Dominguez Perez in India 'A's clash against USA in the final round. 

Playing with the white pieces, Erigiasi made quick work of Perez to take his live rating to 2702.2 

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