India’s 10-member men’s and women’s team will participate in the World Team Chess competition in Russia starting Saturday. The top ten ranked countries in chess will fight it out for the title of the World Teams Champion. India’s best result at the event is when the men’s team won bronze in 2009.
The men’s team in the Open section will be lead by Vidit Gujrathi, along with K Sasikiran, Adhiban Baskaran, Parimarjan Negi and Karthikeyan Murali. The women’s team consists of Dronavalli Harika, Eesha Karavade, S Vijayalakshmi, Padmini Rout and Tania Sachdev.
India will be up against China, USA, Ukraine, Russia, Egypt, Norway, Turkey, Belarus and Poland in the men’s section and the women will be against Georgia, China, Poland, Ukraine, Egypt, Russia, USA, Vietnam, and Azerbaijan.
“Last time we played some good chess and lost some matches by very narrow margins. I also feel we were a bit inexperienced then. Now that we have played against the world’s top teams quite a bit, I think we have a better chance this time,” Gujrathi was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
Other than Gujrathi, the men’s section will have Sasikiran, who recently became the first Indian to win the Capablanca Memorial meet in Cuba. India will be boosted by the return of Negi, who had taken a break for higher studies in the USA.
The last time Negi played a big event, India won a bronze at the 2014 Chess Olympiad. Reigning national champion Karthikeyan and Adhiban, who finished third behind world champion Magnus Carlsen at the Tata Steel Masters, are also part of the team.
The women’s team, lead by Harika, start as sixth seeds and may not look as strong as their male counterparts, but on their day are capable of springing a surprise. Harika will be the key player for them, but the return of veteran Vijayalakshmi will also be a big boost. “We are going to start as the sixth seed. We are not favourites on paper but nothing is impossible,” Harika told The New Indian Express.
The World Team Chess will take place from June 16 to 27 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
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