India and Russia have been declared as joint winners of the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad after a controversial finish on Sunday. Russian chess players were almost handed over the trophy after two Indian players — Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh — lost in the final due to a problem with the internet connection. Following a protest lodged by Indian players against the decision, the results were reviewed and eventually both the countries declared winners, stating server malfunction. This is the first time ever that India has won a gold medal in the history of the tournament. Previously, their best finish at the Olympiad was a bronze medal in 2014.
“It is a golden moment for the Indian chess fraternity. I think this victory will motivate many youngsters to take up Chess as a profession,” said chess stalwart Koneru Humpy on India’s big win, ANI reported.
It is a golden moment for the Indian chess fraternity. I think this victory will motivate many youngsters to take up Chess as a profession: Koneru Humpy on India winning the gold medal in the 2020 Chess Olympiad. pic.twitter.com/7lYl1ptY6K
— ANI (@ANI) August 31, 2020
The Indian team comprised of former world champion Viswanathan Anand, Koneru Humpy, Harika Dronavalli, Nihal Sarin, Divya Deshmukh, Bhakti Kulkarni, P. Harikrishna, R Praggnanandhaa, Aravindh Chithambaram VR, R Vaishali and Vantika Agarwal. It was led by captain Vidit Gujrathi. The first round of the final ended in a 3-3 draw after all six games finished in draws. While Russia won the second round 4.5-1.5, Indian players claimed the losses were due to connection issues. In the second round, Anand and captain Gujrathi drew with the respective opponents. Among the women, Humpy, however, was beaten by Russia’s Alexandra Goryachkina and D Harika drew with Alexandra Kosteniuk.
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What You Should Know
- India and Russia were declared joint winners of the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad on Sunday.
- This is the first time the Indian team won a gold medal in the tournament.
- India’s previous best at the Olympiad was a bronze medal in 2014.
India’s top-ranked player, world number 15 Viswanathan Anand shared the news of the win from his Twitter handle.
We are the champions !! Congrats Russia!
— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) August 30, 2020
Humpy, who was playing eight months after she became World Rapid Champion, took the spotlight in the semifinals when she defeated Monika Socko to help India win against Poland. “We didn’t even have time for strategy but were determined to come back,” Humpy had earlier told TOI.
‘We fought till the end’
In December last year, Humpy won a highly-anticipated battle at the Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship crown in Moscow, Russia. The Grandmaster made a stunning comeback after taking a two-year sabbatical from 2016 to 2018, due to motherhood. Reacting to the Olympiad win, the 32-year-old said, “Well it is a bit strange that we lost due to server failure and our appeal was accepted. Well I can say, we fought till the end.”
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“The best part about this win is that it showed the depth of chess in India. Every player in the team kicked in at some point, clinched some decisive matches and that makes me really happy. When we first had those virtual meetings, I could sense that the young guns were excited to be part of the team. For some of them — they have won a gold medal in their first shot and it’s very sweet,” Anand told TOI after the final.
Feature Image Credit: sportskeeda