Chess Olympiad 2022, Viswanathan Anand Exclusive Column: Winning mentality sent Gukesh into autopilot mode, should have tried to draw

Viswanathan Anand looks back at performances from day 10 of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad in Chennai.

Gukesh had a completely winnable position but somehow the conversion dragged on and he suffered his first loss of the Olympiad.

Gukesh had a completely winnable position but somehow the conversion dragged on and he suffered his first loss of the Olympiad. | Photo Credit: Velankanni Raj B

Viswanathan Anand looks back at performances from day 10 of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad in Chennai.

It was a great result for India 1 as it caught up with India 2 to occupy the second place in the Open section of the Chess Olympiad.

But it was a very tough day for India 2. D. Gukesh had a completely winnable position but somehow the conversion dragged on, and it is usually a bad sign when you’re unable to convert.

Gukesh outplayed Uzbekistan’s Nodirbek Abdusattorov with the greatest of ease, and everyone was very impressed with his play. But Abdusattorov defended tenaciously and Gukesh somehow kept missing the moment.

Then came a certain point where Gukesh simply misplayed everything, but he could have still played for a draw. I was really hoping that he would make a draw here, because it’s a well-known phenomenon that when you cross that bridge, there’s a point of no return. Especially when you have been winning before, you don’t want to accept that events have changed. I have suffered in such situations many times. So, I was really hoping that Gukesh would know how to stop and just make a draw, especially since R. Praggnanandhaa was already winning. 

I don’t think Gukesh necessarily played for a win or a draw. He just kept going on autopilot. It was typical because he was still in the mentality of “I should be winning this”.  

He has not had the time to adjust. And finally, the tragedy happened. And when you’re not thinking straight and you are as tired as he is, the result could get tough.

You must give full credit to Abdusattorov that from a completely hopeless position, he was still able to make moves. It is not easy to keep making moves without collapsing. It is not stuff of beauty, but this is how you win games. 

In the Open section, P. Harikrishna escaped the worst and then seemed to drop back into trouble. Vidit Gujrathi played a fantastic game today and since S. L. Narayanan was already in a very good situation, India 1 clinched this one.

Leaders Armenia and Uzbekistan, having already faced each other, will battle for the first place against the other contenders.

For women, it was a very good result for India 1 and Tania Sachdev played an exceptional game. She is really the superstar in that team. There were also some great performances from Koneru Humpy and Bhakti Kulkarni today. 

Since Poland has a better tiebreaker, there is still some intrigue there, but everything again comes down to the last day. 

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