India fielded a third team in the Open section after getting a last-minute entry to register their highest-ever participation at the 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled to be held at Mahabalipuram from July 28 to August 10.

A record breaking 187 teams, the highest-ever for any Chess Olympiad, has registered for the showdown in India In order to even out the number of entries, as per norm, FIDE approved a third team from the host country. The Women section has attracted 162 entries, the highest ever and India will be fielding two teams in this section for the first time too.

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Grandmasters Surya Shekhar Ganguly, Karthikeyan Murali, SP Sethuraman, Abhijeet Gupta and Abhimanyu Puranik comprise the third Indian team with Gujarat's first GM, Tejas Bakre as the captain.

Surya Shekhar Ganguly summed up the squad’s sentiment, saying: “Nothing could be more exciting or thrilling than to be playing in an Olympiad again after a long time and first time in your own country.”

Ganguly, a six- time National Champion, was Vishwanathan Anand’s second in four World Championships and has represented India in six Chess Olympiads so far.  SP Sethuraman is also a former National Champion and was a part of the bronze medal winning Indian team at Tromso Olympiad in 2014.

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On the other hand, Abhijeet Gupta was the third Indian to win the World Junior title after Anand and Pentala Harikrishna and is the only Indian to win the Commonwealth title on five occasions. The 23-year-old Karthikeyan Murali won the National title twice and will be making his debut for India at the Olympiad along with 22-year-old Puranik.

“This is the best gift India could have ever got. Difficult to imagine even in the wildest dreams that 25 Indians would be competing together in an Olympiad.” said Bharat Singh Chauhan, Secretary AICF and also the Olympiad Director.