The chances of the Indian team securing a podium finish in the upcoming 44th Chess Olympiad are very high, says Grandmaster M Shyam Sundar, who is the coach of the top-seeded women 'A' team in the tournament.
The India Women A team comprises Koneru Humpy, D Harika, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni.
"Most of our players are experienced and have been playing at the highest level for many years. Chances for a podium finish are very high. The preparation has been quite good.They are also in good physical shape," the 31-year old told PTI.
He believed that being the host nation has its advantages and disadvantages both.
"I believe with the right mindset and not being pressurised we can perform well!" Shyam Sundar felt that in the absence of powerhouses Russia and China, the Indian teams in both sections (Open and women) have very good chances.
"Yes, the absence of these two strong teams improves our chances in both the sections. However, we would have still been favourites for a podium finish even if they had been present!" The Indian women's team coach said they would be playing with the same intensity irrespective of the opponents, adding that all teams would be well prepared.
"Most of the top teams would be ones to watch out for. Everyone will be well prepared. So we will play with the same intensity irrespective of our opponents," he added.
The player-turned-coach felt that Chennai hosting the Olympiad would be a big boost not only for chess but for sports overall.
"Yes definitely! Not just chess, I believe sports in general will have a great impact and more youngsters will take the sport more seriously and consider it as a profession," Shyam Sundar added.
The legendary Viswanathan Anand is still a force to reckon with in the world of chess though he is past 50 and continues to inspire people, he said.
"Vishy has always been my inspiration. It feels great to see that he is still performing strong. I will be playing tournaments whenever I get time. I wanted to be in touch with the game and stay up-to-date with the trends," said Shyam Sundar, who took up coaching relatively early.
Though India has produced world champions and talented players at the age-group level, not many of them have shone at the senior level.
"Yes, India has produced a lot of talents and many more to come! With the right support and healthy atmosphere, these kids will reach the very top in the nearest future.
"There can be various reasons for this (talented young players not being able to shine at the senior level and fading away). Some of the players have left chess due to financial crunch,while others chose a different career.
"Also in the earlier days it would not be so easy to travel abroad. However, now players form a group and travel together.We can definitely see many players at the top level in the coming years!" Shyam Sundar signed off by saying that the efforts of the Tamil Nadu government and All India Chess Federation to bring the Olympiad to the city were stupendous and he could not wait for it to get started.