Indians dominate

Creditable show... the Indian contingent in Al Ain.-

India emerged as the strongest of all the nations that took part in various age categories, writes P.K. Ajith Kumar.

India’s budding chess talents were in full bloom at Al Ain, known as the Garden City of the UAE, at the World Youth chess championship. India emerged as the strongest of all the 171 nations that took part in various age categories, ranging from Under-8 to Under-18, as its players walked away with a whopping 21 medals. The next best performance came from Russia with eight medals. Such was India’s dominance, especially in the Blitz events, in which it won 13 out of the possible 36 medals.

There were several outstanding performances from India. R. Pragnananda not only bagged the gold in both Classical and Blitz events, but did so winning every game he played, in the Under-8 category.

“It may be very early days, but this boy from Chennai is hugely promising,” says Grandmaster R. B. Ramesh, one of the coaches of the Indian contingent that had 84 players.

There was also a 100 per cent performance from Nihal Sarin in the Under-10 Blitz event. The kid from Kerala, not among the strong States in chess, too is one for the future.

Like Pragnananda, there were twin medals for C. Lakshmi, who took the bronze in both the Classical and Blitz events of the girls’ Under-10, and Bhagyashree Patil who had a double bronze in the girls’ Under-8. The girls’ Under-14 Blitz saw India claiming 1-2-3, through Rutuja Bakshi (gold), Kavya Anigani (silver) and Tejaswini Sagar (bronze).

In the boys’ Under-16 Classical, the gold and silver were won by Murali Karthikeyan and Girish Koushik respectively. In the boys’ Under-18 Classical, Vibhav Suri came up with a fine effort to clinch the bronze.

The Al Ain World Championship was further proof of India’s dominance in age-group chess. “We have been the best in the world for quite some time now,” says Ramesh.

“The main reason for that is our kids are willing to work hard. Even at a very young age, they spend hours practising. Another reason is that they play in many tournaments for seniors, round the year.”

MEDAL WINNERS Classical: Boys: Under-18: Vaibhav Suri (bronze).

Under-16: Murali Karthikeyan (gold) and Girish Koushik (silver).

Under-12: K.S. Raghunandan (silver). Under-8: R. Pragnananda (gold). Girls:

Under-10: Saina Salonika (gold) and C. Lakshmi (bronze).

Under-8: Bhagyashree Patil (bronze). Blitz: Boys: Under-16: Sayantan Das (silver). Under-12: J. Rakesh Kumar (bronze). Under-10: Nihal Sarin (gold). Under-8: R. Pragnananda (gold). Girls: Under-18: P. Michelle Catherina (silver). Under-16: Srija Seshadri (silver).

Under-14: Rutuja Bakshi (gold), Kavya Anigani (silver) and

Tejaswini Sagar (bronze). Under-12: R. Vaishali (gold). Under-10: C. Lakshmi (bronze).

Under-8: Rakshita Ravi (gold) and Bhagyashree Patil (bronze).