Begins its campaign against Egypt; Each match to have six games
India begins as the favourite to top the 10-team Group B when the league phase in the top division of the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad begins on Wednesday.
Having shared the title with Russia last year, India is one of the favourites. Led by Viswanathan Anand, India is seeded third behind China and Russia.
In the first phase of the league, 40 teams (25 seeds and 15 qualifiers) are placed in four groups of 10 teams. After the league, two teams from each group will qualify for the quarterfinals.
India and Azerbaijan are the rating favourites to occupy the two qualifying spots from the group. Hungary has reasons to fancy its chances. France, Sweden, Slovenia, Shenzhen China, Belarus, Egypt and Moldova are the other teams.
Each match will have six games featuring two men, two women, a junior boy and a junior girl. The time control is 15 minutes plus 5-second increment per move.
With Anand, P. Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi and B. Adhiban around, the top two boards appear well served. Similarly, the presence of spearhead K. Humpy, D. Harika, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni offers good options on the two women boards.
In Nihal Sarin and R. Praggnanandhaa, India has a very strong presence in junior boys. R. Vaishali, a reserve among women, will be India’s first choice in junior girls, with debutant Savitha Shri as an option.
IT major Microsense has come onboard to ensure there is no glitch in internet connectivity during matches. Moreover, the members of the Indian team have moved to a five-star hotel in Chennai.
Harikrishna has chosen to play from his residence in Prague. Similarly, Humpy and Harika too have opted to play from home.
On Wednesday, India begins its campaign against Egypt before taking on France and Sweden. On Thursday, India’s preparedness faces severe challenges from Shenzhen China, Azerbaijan and Belarus. On Friday, India will be up against Hungary, Moldova and Slovenia.
Top eight teams (as per average ratings):
1. Russia (2596), 2. China (2592), 3. India (2491), 4. Poland (2455).
5. Kazakhstan (2446), 6. Netherlands (2434), 7. Azerbaijan (2431), 8. Germany (2427).
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