BY K.Gopalakrishnan

The 51 player strong Indian contingent is all set and getting ready to grab many of the medals on offer at the half way stage of the World Youth Chess Championships 2014 being held at the International Convention Centre, Durban from 19th September to 29th September 2014.

Nihal Sarin is leading the pack with 5.5 points in the Under 10 Boys category, while Divya Deshmukh is leading with 5.5 points out of 6 games in the Under 10 Girls Category.  In the Under 14 Open category, two Indians, viz., K S Raghunandhan and Harsha Bharathkoti are leading with 5 points out of 6 games and are currently placed first and second respectively.  In the Under 16 Open Category, our star, V R Aravindh Chidambaram is leading the pack with 5.5 points while in the Under 18 Open category, Grandmaster Vaibhav Suri is leading with 5.5 points.

In the Under 8 Open section, Gukesh Dommaraju and Luke Leon Mendonca have scored 5 points out of 6 rounds and are currently placed second and third respectively.  In the Under 8 Girls section, M S Darsana and Sanskruti Wankhade have scored 4.5 points out of 6 and are currently placed fourth and fifth on the list.  In the Under 12 Open category, Ram Aravind and Rahul Srivastav are placed third and fifth respectively with 5 points each and in the Under 12 Girls Category, Priyanka Nuttaki has scored 5 points and is currently placed third. R.Vaishali has scored 5 points in 6 games and is currently placed third in the list in the under 14 Girls category.

Apart from the above mentioned players, the others are breathing down their necks with either half point behind or a full point behind.  With still five more rounds to go in this prestigious event, we can hope for more medals from our players.  The brighter side to note here is that many of the leading Indians lost out only to their Indian counterparts – like Rakshita Ravi losing to Divya Deshmukh, Dhanush Bharadwaj losing to Nihal Sarin or Pragnanandha drawing with Dhanush Bharadwaj and Aravindh Chidambaram drawing with Karthikeyan Murali in the earlier rounds.  Also to be noted here is that in the Under 16 Girls Category, Varshini has played and drawn with G K Monishha and lost to Mahalakshmi.   The playing area is designed in such a way that the top ten tables from each category are in the first bay and are played with DGT boards and the games are transmitted live.  The organisers as well as the arbiters and spectators always marvel at the dominance of our players in the top board area and look upon us with great pride.