Indian teams made a winning start to their 43rd Chess Olympiad campaign with the men defeating El Salvador 3.5-0.5 while the women blanked New Zealand 4-0 in the opening round in Batumi, Georgia, on Monday.
Viswanathan Anand, playing in the Olympiad after a gap of 12 years, sat out of the opening round but the Indian quartet of P Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi, B Adhiban and K Sasikiran had little trouble in getting the better of the lowly ranked El Salvador.
While the first three registered easy wins, Sasikiran was held to a draw in 52 moves on the last board by Carlos Burgos Figuerao, thereby denying India a perfect score.
They will now face Austria in the second round.
There was no such problem in the women’s section after IM Tania Sachdev managed managed to turn around things from a losing position in a rook endgame.
Koneru Humpy, who was playing her first tournament after a gap of two years, defeated New Zealand’s Helen Milligan in 36 moves with black and Eesha Karavade and Padmini Rout quickly made it 3-0 for the team.
Playing on the second board, Sachdev was in trouble in the middle game but she kept her nerves to fight back and turned things around in the endgame despite being a pawn down to win in 67 moves to take the team to a joint top spot with 55 others.
The women will now face Venezuela in the second round.