Istanbul (Turkey): Led by Krishnan Sasikiran, the Indian men will take on Wales in the first round of the chess Olympiad that began here after a glittering opening ceremony. (Agencies)
With P Harikrishna, Parimarjan Negi, Abhijeet Gupta and G N Gopal around, the Indian men will start as 13th seed in the biggest chess spectacle.
Russia starts as the top seeds expectedly with former world champion Vladimir Kramnik donning the top board while Ukraine is the second seed amongst a record participation of 158 nations.
In the women's event being held simultaneously, the Indian eves start as the 6th seed. World women’s championship finalist Koneru Humpy, who was a part of the team in the last world team championship, is not in the Indian squad anymore which seriously jeopardizes the chances of a medal.
According to All India Chess Federation, the dialogue with Humpy fell flat as she wanted her father’s expenses to be paid by the Federation.
"Last time at the world women team event, we got personal contributions to make it possible, but it is not possible to make this a precedent," said AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan.
"There are ten players in the Indian team and they all have different trainers, it is just not possible to bear expenses of personal trainers. With support of the Govt. we have appointed two good trainers in R B Ramesh and Abhijit Kunte. Both are experienced Grandmasters," Chauhan said.
Without Humpy, D Harika becomes the mainstay in a team that will largely depend on form of Eesha Karavade, Tania Sachdev and Mary Ann Gomes. Soumya Swaminathan comes to this event from a tournament in Greece where she lost her last four rounds.
The women team still has more chances then their men counterpart for a podium finish. Much would depend on individual encounters against higher ranked teams like Russia, China and Georgia.
In the open section, the chances look brighter than ever with Parimarjan Negi and Abhijeet Gupta making their debut in the Olympiad. A top ten finish is much on cards if the recent results of these two are anything to go by.
Sasikiran and Harikrishna have the experience, tenacity and the skill to combat the best in business on top two boards while lower down Negi and Gupta can make things work for the team.
Against Wales, the Indians start as overwhelming favourite and a 4-0 victory looks much on cards. There are 11 rounds in all and for each win a team will be awarded two match points. The points will be split in case of a 2-2 draw.
The Indian eves should also get a winning start against FYROM, Macedonia. There are 104 teams in this section.
The top-15 seeds (based on a team’s average rating):
Open: 1. Russia (2769); 2. Ukraine (2730), 3. Armenia (2724), 4. Azerbaijan (2719), 5. Hungary (2708), 6. USA (2702), 7. China (2694), 8. France (2684), 9. Netherlands (2682), 10. Bulgaria (2678), 11. England (2677), 12. Israel (2676), 13. India (2673), 14. Germany (2667) and 15. Cuba (2661).
Women: 1. China (2531), 2. Russia (2513), 3. Georgia (2490), 4. Ukraine (2471), 5. USA (2419), 6. India (2412), 7. Poland (2408), 8. Armenia (2404), 9. Germany (2391), 10. Romania (2377), 11. Spain (2374), 12. Hungary (2364), 13. Bulgaria (2358), 14. France (2350) and 15. Cuba (2335).
Istanbul (Turkey): Led by Krishnan Sasikiran, the Indian men will take on Wales in the first round of the chess Olympiad that began here after a glittering opening ceremony.