By Arvind Aaron
Five of India’s eight medal winners returned to a hero’s welcome when they returned to Chennai at 3 a.m. on Monday.
“This is my best so far,” said Karthikeyan Murali who won the World Under-16 title with a strong finish. In five appearances in the World Youth Chess Championship he won a silver and two gold medals, said his father.
Having achieved two Grand Master norms, Karthikeyan Murali is looking for the third norm and the title. He blamed himself for the bad start when he went for a game prepared with the wrong colour.
“I had won the State and National Under-7 with 11/11 scores and followed that up with another 11/11 score in the World Under-8 Championship,” said Praggnanandhaa of Chennai who won with a round to spare. “Only in the Asian he missed scoring a sweep and made 10.5/11,” said his mother. His physically challenger father Ramesh Babu was one of the many people to receive the players.
The medal winners of the classical chess event were presented shawls and garlands in the middle of the night by FIDE, AICF, TNSCA and CDCA officials.
Had players like Rakshitta Ravi (who enjoyed a winning position) and Divya Deshmukh won in the final round, we would have made more medals, said D.V. Sundar, Vice President of FIDE who was at the airport to greet the young champions.
“This large trophy was presented to the country with the best results and most medals,” said Nandakumar, head of the Indian delegation at Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates. “Organisation was very good, awesome resources, but we had to stand in the long line for the three meals,” said the Indian coach, Grand Master R.B. Ramesh.
Among officials, V. Hariharan, Honorary Secretary, AICF, Murugavel, Vice President, TNSCA, Ganesan, Secretary, CDCA, Rajaram, Secretary, Kanchi District Chess Association, Sakthi Prabhakar (CDCA) and TNSCA officials K Thirukkalathy and Muthukumar were present to receive and felicitate the players.
Reciprocating to the felicitation, Murali, father of the new Under-16 champion distributed sweets to all players and officials.
“I had not seen the chess board until this event,” said Girish Koushik of Mysore who is putting his best efforts for his school final examinations this academic year. He won a silver medal in the Under-16 Open event and set up Karthikeyan Murali’s title by thrashing a Russian joint leader in the crucial final game.
Other medal winners who also returned included C Lakshmi (Girls U-10, bronze) of Chennai and K.S. Raghunandan (Open Under-12, silver) of Bangalore.
India won three gold, two silver and three bronze, the most by a single nation. Russia who fielded more players than India won one gold, one silver and three bronze medals in classical chess.
India Dominate Blitz Too
At the end of the classical event, Indians also played in the blitz event and did even better winning five titles and 13 medals. Praggnanandhaa (again 7/7!) won Under-8 while his sister R Vaishali won Girls Under-12. Rakshitta Ravi won Girls Under-8, Bakshi Rutuja (Girls U-14) and Nihal Sarin (Open U-10) won gold medals.
Medal winners: P Michelle Catherina (Girls, U-18, silver), Sayantan Das (Open, U-16, silver), Srija Seshadri (Girls, U-16, silver), Anigani Kavya (Girls, U-14, silver), Tejaswini Sagar (Girls, U-14, bronze), Rakesh Kumar Jena (Open, U-12, bronze), C Lakshmi (Girls, U-10, bronze), Bhagyashree Patil (Girls, U-8, bronze).
Most medals in blitz: 1 India 13, 2 Iran 4, 3-4. China-Russia 3 each; etc.