Debutants Pull Indian Men High
By Arvind aaron
Indians are off to a flier of a start in the Baku Chess Olympiad. Five wins from five matches has placed India in the lead column along with the Netherlands and former champions Ukraine. Just six rounds remain to be played.
The fifth round win of India over hosts Azerbaijan-1 by 3-1 is one of the biggest upsets recorded by the Indians in a Chess Olympiad. All four Indians had lower ratings and strangely our wins came on the black boards!
The Indian showing is largely driven by Vidit Gujrathi and Karthikeyan Murali, both of whom are making a debut. India had three changes in the line up which won the maiden bronze medal at Norway 2014. Sasikiran, Negi and Lalith Babu were replaced by Harikrishna (who returned to the team), Vidit and Karthikeyan Murali.
Vidit was fielded in all five games by coach R.B. Ramesh and he is sitting pretty on 5/5. Indian champion Karthikeyan Murali (2/2) started well but Harikrishna is fielded at the top from round three. Harikrishna beat Mamedyarov with black in the top board.
Top seed Russia has last won the Olympiad at Bled 2002 with Kasparov on top board. They have already lost 1.5-2.5 to Ukraine with challenger Sergey Karjakin deciding to rest on top board against his native country. Defending champions China have tasted their first and rare defeat against Ukraine too.
(Photos by M.S.Gopakumar, International Arbiter)