Russia Men, Chinese Women Start As Favourites

olympiad 2014 logoRussia Men, Chinese Women Start As Favourites
By Arvind Aaron

Russia will start as favourite in the Tromso Chess Olympiad. The start seeding is based on the average rating of the five member team they have managed to attract. Russia was favourite in all the Chess Olympiads from 2004 to 2012 too but failed to win. They last won in 2002 at Bled in which Garry Kasparov was on the top board.

Top 20 seeds: Russia (Elo 2777), Ukraine (2722), France (2718), Armenia (2704), USA (2704), Hungary (2701), China (2696), Azerbaijan (2693), England (2681), Netherlands (2678), Israel (2677), Cuba (2675), Norway (2667), Germany (2665), Poland (2663), Czech Republic (2644), Bulgaria (2642), Spain (2639), India (2628), Georgia (2623).

The important points are that Magnus Carlsen will be playing in the Norway-1 team on the top board. Being hosts they have multiple teams. Russian team has Grischuk, Karjakin, Kramnik, Svidler and Nepomniachtchi. Kramnik is the old hand having played since Manila Olympiad of 1992. Russia’s rivals should be the Russian speaking American team!

India is led by Krishnan Sasikiran, and besides himself, the all-GM team comprises of Parimarjan Negi, B Adhiban, S.P. Sethuraman, M.R. Lalith Babu. Adhiban won the Biel Masters Open and should be warm in Norway. Last August, Adhiban gave a simultaneous display in Norway on the same day when Carlsen gave a simultaneous at Chennai. Adhiban won all games. India will be seeded 19 despite not having Anand and Harikrishna in the line up. India will need to win towards the end in order to get a placing better than the seeding.

China start the Women’s Olympiad as favourites. Russia are the defending champions in women. China will be wanting to wrest the title back. China has fielded Hou Yifan, Zhao Xue, Ju Wenjun, Tan Zhongyi, Guo Qi.

Top seeds: China (2543), Russia (2520), Ukraine (2505), Georgia (2498), India (2420), Romania (2409), USA (2407), Poland (2392), France (2390), Germany (2387).

India start as the fifth seed here. Our best ever was only last time at Istanbul 2012 when we took fourth place without Humpy. Koneru Humpy is getting married on August 13 at Vijayawada and is not in the team once again.

Our team is similar to last time. Dronavalli Harika, Tania Sachdev, Eesha Karavade, Mary Ann Gomes, Padmini Rout. The minor change being that Padmini Rout is replacing former world junior girls champion Soumya Swaminathan in the bottom board.

If India can have two good days against China and Russia, we can even win this Olympiad. For this to happen, we have to score well in the other matches by 2.5-1.5 and maintain good form without dropping games and matches. Our chances in the women team is certainly better. A team medal here will certainly be a huge achievement. Harika has played very well and her form will be crucial to the team’s success