India clinches Asian Nations Cup title

In the 20-team field, India remained unbeaten in the nine-round competition to aggregate 17 match-points, two more than top seed China.

Members of the Indian team that won the Asian Nations Cup chess title in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. (from left): Captain/coach R. B. Ramesh, K. Sasikiran, Deep Sengupta, S. P. Sethuraman, B. Adhiban and Vidit Gujarathi.   -  Special Arrangement

India ended China’s seven-year reign in the Asian Nations Cup chess championship by taking the title in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. In the 20-team field, India remained unbeaten in the nine-round competition to aggregate 17 match-points, two more than top seed China.

India won eight matches and drew one to emerge as the champion nation of the continent. The fifth-round victory over the reigning Olympiad champion China helped second seed India stay ahead of the nearest challenger.

In the final round, India needed a just a draw against fifth seed Vietnam to win the title. India made it in style by scoring a 3-1 victory.

Gold for Vidit

Vidit Gujrathi also claimed the gold medal for his performance on Board Three, scoring seven points after facing nine rivals with an average rating of 2435. B. Adhiban, who played on the top board and faced opposition with an average rating of 2528, scored 6.5 points from nine rounds.

K. Sasikiran, S. P. Sethuraman and Deep Sengupta were the other members of the team.

Grandmaster R. B. Ramesh, the captain/coach of the team, once again proved his worth. He was also the coach of the Indian team that won a historic bronze, a first-ever medal, in the 2014 Chess Olympiad.

In the ladies section, India finished fourth, with 12 match-points, behind champion China (15), Uzbekistan (14) and Kazakhstan (13). Had India beaten Iran in its final encounter, that ended 2-2, the ladies team headed by D. Harika would have returned with a medal.

Individually, D. Harika scored 4.5 points from seven outings, Tania Sachdev and Padmini Rout scored five points each from eight rounds, Soumya Swaminathan tallied seven from nine and Bhakti Kulkarni maintained a clean record by winning all her four games.

Top-10 standings of Open section: 1. India 17 points; 2. China 15; 3. Kazakhstan 14; 4. Iran 12; 5. Uzbekistan 11; 6-8. Mongolia, Bangladesh, UAE-1 (10 each). 10. Kyrgyzstan (9).

India’s round-wise results: 1. Beat Jordan 3.5-0.5; 2. Drew with Mongolia 2-2; 3. Beat Kazakhstan 3.5-0.5; 4. Beat UAE-1 3-1; 5. Beat China 2.5-1.5; 6. Beat Iran 3.5-0.5; 7. Beat Bangladesh 2.5-1.5; 8. Beat Uzbekistan 2.5-1.5; Beat Vietnam 3-1.

Indian performances (points scored/rounds played): 1. Vidit Gujrathi 7/9; B. Adhiban 6.5/9; K. Sasikiran 5/7; S. P. Sethuraman 5/8; Deep Sengupta 2.5/3.