New Delhi, Aug 24: With the crucial assistance of R Praggnanandhaa and Divya Deshmukh, India defeated China by 4-2 in the ninth and final preliminary round to make the quarterfinals of the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad. Through this win, India finished at the top of Top Division Pool "A", making them the first team to qualify directly for the quarter-finals.
Though the four games in the top four boards ended in a draw, India came back with a stronger strategy in the under-20 boards, where 15-year-old Praggnanandhaa won against Yan Liu and Divya Deshmukh outplayed Jiner Zhu. Some of the youngest and more promising Grandmasters in the world are from India, and this enormous potential is already starting to show in international competitions.
Visit Gujrathi, the Indian captain, held world No.3 Ding Liren to a creditable draw on the top board while P Harikrishna also shared honors with Yangyi Yu. Meanwhile, Indian ace Koneru Humpy with the women”s world No.1 Yifan Hou and D Harika against the current world champion Wenjun Ju held to draws. With this, India claimed the top spot in Pool A with 17 points and 39.5 board points.
"Some of the youngest and more promising Grandmasters in the world are from India, and this enormous potential is already starting to show in international competitions. The Indian players were especially spurred after the technical difficulties that some of them experienced yesterday when Vidit and Humpy lost their games due to a power failure," the official site of International Chess Federation said in a release.
It added that this incident deprived the Indian team of a certain victory in a crucial match against Mongolia that could have cost them dearly. But the Indians didn't lose heart and reacted in the best possible way, turning frustration into motivation. Before the decisive victory against China, India had also defeated another two strong opponents: Georgia (4-2) and Germany (4½-1½).
Earlier, in the seventh round, India posted a 4-2 win over Georgia with former world champ Viswanathan Anand being held to a draw by Levan Pantsulaia.In the eighth round, India registered a comfortable 4.5-1.5 win over Germany with captain Vidit Gujrathi leading the way by beating Rasmus Svane.
Round 7: India beat Georgia 4-2 (Viswanathan Anand drew with Levan Pantsulaia; P Harikrishna beat Luka Paichadze; Konery Humpy drew with Meri Arabidze; D Harika lost to Nino Batsiashvili; R Praggnanandhaa beat Nikolozi Kacharava; Divya Deshmukh beat Diana Lomaia).
Round 8: India beat Germany 4.5-1.5 (Vidit Santosh Gujrathi beat Rasmus Svane; Harikrishna drew with Matthias Bluebaum; D Harika drew with Lara Schulze; Bhakti Kulkarni beat Filiz Osmanodja; Nihal Sarin drew with Roven Vogel; Vantika Agrwal beat Jana Schneider).
Round 9: India beat China 4-2 (Vidit Gujrathi drew with Ding Liren; Harikrishna drew with Yangyi Yu; Humpy drew with Hou Yifan; D Harika drew with Wenjun Ju; R Praggnanandhaa beat Yan Liu; Divya Deshmukh beat Jiner Zhu). Final standings: Pool A: 1. India 17 points, 2. China 16, 3. Germany 11, 4. Iran 9, 5-6. Mongolia & Georgia 8, 7. Indonesia 8, 8. Uzbekistan 7, 9. Vietnam 6, 10. Zimbabwe 0.