New Delhi, Aug 31: In a first, India has clinched a historic gold in the FIDE Chess Olympiad on Sunday but they will be sharing the gold medal with Russia after Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh lost connection to their games in the second round and had to forfeit.
It was the first time that the olympiad was conducted online. Initially, Russia was declared as the winners but India filed an appeal against the decision. Following the investigation, India, and Russia, both were declared joint winners. This was the first time that India had reached the finals of the Olympiad. The best performance displayed by India, earlier, was in 2014 when it came home back with a bronze medal.
PM Narendra Modi also praised and congratulated the Indian team for winning the gold for the first time. "Congratulations to our chess players for winning the FIDE Online #ChessOlympiad. Their hard work and dedication are admirable. Their success will surely motivate other chess players. I would like to congratulate the Russian team as well," he said.
In the first round, it was a tie 3-3 where all six games ended in a draw, the second and decisive match was impacted by a global internet outage, that severely affected many countries including India. Following this incident, Nihal and Divya, lost connection towards the end of the game, subsequently losing on time. The incident happened when three games ended in draws and the outcome of the match was still unclear.
However, India appealed the result on the grounds that their players (along with hundreds of other users) were logged out of Chess.com as a consequence of a massive internet outage at the time of the games. As soon as the last game between Goryachkina and Koneru was over (Gorychkina won in a long battle in a rook endgame), India appealed the match result on the grounds that their players (along with hundreds of other users) were logged out of Chess.com as a consequence of a massive internet outage at the time of the games.
The Appeals Committee examined all the evidence provided by Chess.com, as well as information gathered from other sources about the Cloudflare crash that caused the outage. An official statement by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich read, "The Online Chess Olympiad has been impacted by a global internet outage, that severely affected several countries, including India. Two of the Indian players have been affected and lost connection when the outcome of the match was still unclear."
After being informed of their considerations and in absence of a unanimous verdict, the FIDE President made the decision to award Gold Medals to both teams.
With one of the two games very likely to be an Indian victory, the match seemed destined to be decided again in an Armageddon game. But the incident with disconnection did not let it happen. The ensuing decision, under these unprecedented circumstances, was to award gold medals to both teams. Even if shared, this can be considered the first victory of India in a Chess Olympiad, and the first one for Russia since 2002.