All India Chess Federation on Monday announced the country’s biggest-ever contingent for the 44th Chess Olympiad that will take place in Chennai from July 28 to August 10.

India, being the host, are entitled to field two teams each in the Open and women’s category. As such, 20 players from India will be competing at the event.

Vidit Gujrathi, who led India to gold medal in the 2020 Chess Olympiad, held virtually, will be part of India’s first team in open section alongside Pentala Harikrishna and Chennai-based Krishnan Sasikiran, who have represented India on numerous occasions. The 19-year-old Arjun Erigaisi and SL Narayanan will also be part of the first team.

Arjun has been impressive in the last one year and will be one of the players to watch out for as he makes his debut at the event along with Narayanan.

The other open category team will comprise of young talents who have been making headlines with their consistent performances in the last couple of years, including Praggnanandhaa R, Nihal Sarin, Gukesh D and Raunak Sadhwani. They will be making their debuts at the Chess Olympiad. The team will also have experienced player Adbhiban B, who was a part of the Indian side which won the bronze medal in 2014.

The Indian women teams will have Grandmasters Koneru Humpy and World No 10 Harika Dronavalli, who have stamped their authority on many international tournaments. The prolific Tania Sachdev is also in the team, along with R Vaishali and Bhakti Kulkarni, who will be making their debuts.

The second team in the women’s section will consist of national champions Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes and Padmini Rout along with Vantika Agarwal and 15-year-old Divya Deshmukh.

Meanwhile, five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand, who decided against playing the upcoming Chess Olympiad, will still feature at the Olympiad but as for the Indian teams.

“I am playing very few events these days and after playing many Olympiads, I thought it was time for the younger ones to play. India has many talented youngsters like Nihal, Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh, Arjun and a few more,” Anand said.

Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali will be the second set of siblings to represent the country at the same Olympiad after N Saritha and N Sudhakar Babu played in the 1988 edition in Greece.

GM Pravin Thipsay will be the Head of the Delegation. GM Srinath and GM RB Ramesh will be the coach for first team and second team of open section respectively. GM Abhijit Kunte will be the coach for the women’s first team and GM Swapnil Dhopade for the second.

India won a bronze medal at the Tromso Chess Olympiad in 2014. While in the two virtual Olympiads, India won gold jointly with Russia in 2020 and the women’s team won bronze in 2021.

The teams

Open Team 1
GM Vidit Gujrathi
GM Harikrishna P
GM Erigaisi Arjun
GM S Narayanan
GM K Sasikiran

Open Team 2
GM Nihal Sarin
GM Gukesh D
GM Adhiban B
GM Praggnanandhaa R
GM Raunak Sadhwani

Women’s Team 1
GM Koneru Humpy
GM Harika Dronavalli
IM R Vaishali
IM Tania Sachdev
IM Bhakti Kulkarni

Women’s Team 2
IM Soumya Swaminathan
WGM Mary Ann Gomes
IM Padmini Rout
WGM Vantika Agarwal
WGM Divya Deshmukh.