World Youth Chess: Indians look to give it all in the home-stretch

It will take a strong finish for the Indians to make the podium in most categories of the World Youth chess championship, which is being held in Mumbai.

Divya Deshmukh is one of India's strong medal contenders. (File photo)   -  special arrangement

It will take a strong finish for the Indians to make the podium in most categories of the World Youth chess championship here.

With four rounds to go, after Tuesday’s day of rest, Indians are serious contenders for the gold in the three categories out of six.

R. Pragnanandhaa and P. Iniyan in under-18, L. R. Srihari, R. Abinandhan and favourite M. Sreeshwan in under-14 apart from Rakshitta Ravi and Divya Deshmukh in the girls’ under-14 are battling to be among the medals.

In addition, any medal from the two under-16 sections and the girls’ under-18 categories should be considered a bonus. For now, Aronyak Ghosh (under-16), B. Mounika Akshaya (girls’ under-16) and Vantika Agarwal (under-18) have kept alive the home hopes of a medal.

Grandmaster R. B. Ramesh, the head of the Indian delegation, refrained from guessing the medal haul for host. “Believe me, I don’t think in terms of the medals. Given the quality of our players, if India does not get two gold medals and a silver from the under-18 and girls’ under-14 sections, it will be disappointing.”

Ramesh obviously had the trio of Praggnanandhaa, Divya and Rakshitta in mind behind the assessment. Further, Ramesh said, “There are reasons to be optimistic about M. Sreeshwan (in the under-14). But much defends on how the Indians deal with pressure this week.”

Apart from the host, Russia is looking for medals in at least four categories. Polina Shuvalova (girls’ under-18), Leya Garifullina (girls’ under-16), Rudik Makarian (under-16) and Ekaterina Nasyrova (girls’ under-14) are among medal-aspirants at this stage.

Top-five standings (after seven rounds, Indians unless stated):

Under-18: 1. Aryan Gholami (Iri, 6 points), 2-3. R. Praggnanandha, Mitrabha Guha (5.5 each); 4-5. P. Iniyan and Shant Sargsyan (Arm, 5 each).

Under-16: 1. Hans Moke Niemann (USA, 6), 2-5. Rudik Makarian (Rus), Aronyank Ghosh, Olexiy Bilych (Ukr) and Miguel Angel Soto (Col, 5.5 each).

Under-14: 1-3. Aydin Suleymanli (Aze), L. R. Srihari, R. Abinandhan (6 each); 4-5. M. Sreeshwan and Marc Morgunov (Aut 5.5 each).

Girls’ Under-18: 1. Polina Shuvalova (Rus. 6), 2-3. Vantika Agarwal, Lara Schulze (Ger, 5.5 each); 4-5. Assel Serikbay (Kaz) and Alicija Sliwicka (Pol, 5 each).

Girls’ Under-16: 1-2. Nazerke Nugali (Kaz), leya Garifullina (Rus, 6 each); 3-4. Anousha Mahdian (Iri), Alessia-Mihaela Ciolacu (Rou, 5.5 each); 5. B. Mounika Akashya (5.5).

Girls’ Under-14: 1-3. Ektarina Nasyrova (Rus), Eline Roebers (Ned), Rakshitta Ravi (6 each); 4-5. Astghik Hakobyan (Arm) and Divya Deshmukh (5.5 each).

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