India can finish on the podium at World Team Chess Championship despite the absence of its top three chess players – Viswanathan Anand (world No 7), Pentala Harikrishna (26) and Vidit Gujarati (34) – believes former Asian champion Surya Sekhar Ganguly.
The trio pulled out of the 10-team premier championship. India got a wildcard entry for the tournament after being nominated by the FIDE president.
In the trio’s absence, India’s challenge in the men’s section will be spearheaded by the next five top rated players – world No 52 B Adhiban, Krishnan Sasikiran (67), SP Sethuraman (102), Ganguly (130) and Arvind Chithambaram (240).
“By rating, we may not be high but we are one of the youngest teams with the likes of Sethu, Adhiban and Arvind. We have got a very decent chances to finish podium,” Ganguly told PTI before leaving for the Aeroflot Open in Moscow from February 18.
The Moscow meet will serve as a preparation for the World Team Championship which will be played in a all-play-all nine team format.
Ganguly was the member of the team that won a bronze medal at Bursa in January 2010.
“I’m thrilled that I got a chance and India have also got a wildcard entry. It’s very special for me,” Ganguly said.
“I personally will play the World Team after nine years. I have some happy memories of 2010 as I had got an individual gold on board three as well.”
“Even Russia have not won an Olympiad gold since 2002 when Kasparov left. But they have been been the number one side. It all depends on the given day. I can give loads of examples,” he said.
“Of course, it would have been much better to have Anand, Hari but who knows what clicks... Even we can do well.”
India had finished fourth in the last edition of the World Team Championship at Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia in 2017.