Indians have wrested sole lead in the Chess Olympiad. It is a new high for the land which invented the game. The hero of India’s 2.5-1.5 win over the Netherlands was B Adhiban who beat Erwin L’Ami in the second board. Indian message is simple. Winning the bronze medal at Norway 2014 was no fluke. That majority of our players are near world class players in the team. Harikrishna is in a bigger league and already a world class player. All five players have won world age group titles, some of them more than once. Together they have a top flight trainer in R.B. Ramesh for the little strategies and pat they require.
Between the Olympiads, India had beaten Olympiad champions China and won the Asian Team Championship. Success belongs to our players and our AICF selection system which selects the players. After six rounds, ninth seeded India have recorded six wins and five rounds remain to be played. India face second seed USA in the seventh round. Looking at the American line up, they have three world class players, Caruana, Nakamura and So. But in two of them we have white. We have to remember that we have beaten USA before and we can do it again.
After the 1-3 defeat to India at Bled 2002, Larry Christiansen of USA described his game (against Surya S Ganguly) and postmortem analysis with his team-mate Joel Benjamin, “whatever I did in this game, he says is all wrong!” The pressure will be on the Americans this time around due to the large expectations back home.
Trainer R.B. Ramesh does not have much work to do except field the top four. But he will have to guide our players in choice and depth of opening selections prior to the game. Indians go into this game with energy, hope, talent, dreams and prayers of a billion people.