Chess Olympiad 2022, Viswanathan Anand Exclusive Column: Experience, presence of mind help India on dramatic day 3

Viswanathan Anand analyses performances from across the board on Day 2 of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad in Chennai.

Viswanathan Anand looks back at a dramatic day for the Indians teams at the FIDE Chess Olympiad in Chennai.

Viswanathan Anand looks back at a dramatic day for the Indians teams at the FIDE Chess Olympiad in Chennai. | Photo Credit: Velankanni Raj B

Viswanathan Anand analyses performances from across the board on Day 2 of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad in Chennai.

Today was a crazy day! There were moments when you didn’t know what was happening, especially in R. Praggnanandhaa’s game. I was very concerned at some point. Pragg chose a sharp combative opening, which then naturally leads to a complicated position. I think his opponent Yannick Pelletier from Switzerland played very well. And the other boards, too, weren’t immediately obvious that it was going to go well for India. But, in the end, we won three out of the remaining four boards. So that took a lot of pressure off India. Raunak Sadhwani broke through at some point and Pragg did well to fight back and was lucky to win on time. We had a lot of drama throughout the day.

Even for India 1 – for a long time – it was a tough struggle. But in the end, after the time scramble, Arjun Erigaisi found some key moves, and everything worked out.

For India 3, on the fourth board, Surya Sekhar Ganguly looked to be in a very unpleasant position. But he used his experience to play out a draw and all the remaining boards, too, collected the points.

GAME OF THE DAY: Notes from Anand’s desk - PURANIK vs GRETARSSON

Dramatic game. We will join in from Black’s 41st move.

Black just played the incredible Ne4 (Nf5 was better)

White found the only move 42.Qb7

Whereupon Abhimanyu went for Rxf2. A fantastic move, trusting he could defend against the fierce battery of the queen and the rook on the 7th rank.

Two moves later, he revealed what he had calculated:

Blocking the check with the other rook, I was expecting this rook to come back while watching the game. In fact, Abhimanyu’s is the better way, since the follow up is relatively easier.

Full credit to both Gretarsson and Puranik for navigating this minefield. A sequence that had the spectators spellbound.

In the women’s section, India 1 was going quite slowly. But finally, we won on Bhakti Kulkarni’s board. At the beginning of the game, Bhakti looked utterly lost and was in big trouble. I was concerned because it meant that we had to win two of the remaining three games. But in the end, she did well to recover and post a win. Despite the drawn games of Tania Sachdev and D. Harika, that match came our way.

Varshini had a tragic loss playing for India 3. She played a brilliant game and all she had to do was to capture (on the e5 square) at some point and it was breaking through. Instead, she found a complicated line, and got into trouble. When I was seeing this turn of events, I was concerned. But, as always, on two of the other boards, Pratyusha Bodda and P.V. Nandhidhaa won. So, that match was in the bag, as well.

Again, I would say India’s advantage is that we can fire on all four boards. And that means that even if things are tough in one, we can rescue ourselves in another. Even though at a certain point, I couldn’t tell which board would break through for us. In the end, we broke through on all boards and that was a big relief.

The US team (in the Open section) did not break through till they did. Very close to the time control, Sam Shankland broke through.

For Norway, it looked like Magnus (Carlsen) might do one of his usual things but in the end, Daniel Vocaturo held on to a fighting draw. Italy literally broke through on the two lower boards. I wouldn’t call it a big upset, though, as Italy won this match quite comfortably. 

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