Presence of Viswanathan Anand has heightened expectations from the Indian contingent competing in the 43rd Chess Olympiad. The Indian men’s team are seeded fifth.

Registration of 185 countries in the open and 155 in the women’s section confirm that there is no other sporting event bigger than this than the FIFA world Cup. The FIDE, world chess federation, boasts off 188 countries as their affiliates.

The Indian men, without Anand and P Harikrishna, had finished third in the Olympiad at Norway in 2014. In 2016, they had finished fourth.

With Anand, Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi, B Adhiban and Krishnan Sasikiran one could not have wished for a better team from India this time.

The biggest challenge for India will be the United States, comprising Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So and newly crowned US champion Samuel Shankland.

Seeded second, the Russian men are led by Vladimir Kramnik and have the services of Russian Billionaire Andrey FIlatov working as their captain.

China is seeded third in the 11-round event and Ding Liren is likely to be their mainstay. The fourth seeds are the Azerbaijanis.

In the women’s section, the Indian think tank has again fielded the best team ever. Koneru Humpy, India’s first women to attain the Grandmaster title will be the cynosure of all eyes as she comes back to the board after a gap of almost two years.

While Humpy will don the first board, D Harika, Tania Sachdev, Eesha Karavade and Padmini Rout have the talent and the intention to make things fall in place. This time the newly appointed coach Jacob Aagaard also has services of two Indian Grandmasters.

The women’s team is also seeded fifth and their main challenge will come from China, Russia, Ukraine and Georgia. The Indians eves had finished fifth in the last Olympiad.