FIDE Online Chess Olympiad: Juniors give India an edge over Ukraine

The teams appear evenly matched on the two men and two women boards but the juniors - in-form Nihal Sarin and R. Vaishali - promise to tilt the scales in India’s favour.

File picture of Nihal Sarin.   -  K. K. Mustafah

With the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad reaching the homestretch and the margin of error shrinking noticeably, there will be no room to experiment as an upbeat India takes on an unpredictable Ukraine in the two-match quarterfinals on Monday.

The teams appear evenly matched on the two men and two women boards but the juniors - in-form Nihal Sarin and R. Vaishali - promise to tilt the scales in India’s favour.

Viswanathan Anand, Vidit Gujrathi/P. Harikrishna, K. Humpy,  D. Harika, Nihal Sarin and R. Vaishali make the probable starting line-up in the first set of six games.

READ: FIDE Online Chess Olympiad: India tops Group B, enters quarterfinals

Showing encouraging form, seasoned campaigners Anand and his old foe Vassily Ivanchuk (3 points from 6 games) seem set to resume their rivalry that began from their teen years in the 1980s. Anton Korobov (2.5/4) - the strongest player in Ukraine’s line-up - could pose a
serious threat on the second board.

Humpy will face either Iulija Osmak (4.5/7) or Nataliya Buksa (4.5/6) but Harika was almost certain to meet an in-form Natalia Zhukova
(4.5/5).

In the junior section, Nihal could play Yevgeniy Roshka (2/3) while Vaishali anticipates a clash against Mariia Berdnyk (4.5/6). Here, India appears favourite to strike the decisive blow.

In the league, Ukraine lost to Russia in the opening encounter, drew the penultimate round to Italy and won the rest to finish second in Group ‘C’. On the other hand, India dropped two draws and won the rest to head Group ‘B’.

The winner of the India-Ukraine clash will take on the winner of the Kazakhstan-USA match. In the other two quarterfinals, Russia meets Hungary and China plays Poland.

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