Chennai, Sep 7: India’s men’s team can end up on the World Chess Olympiad podium at the end of the 11th round if it continues to maintain its current performance — winning each round even with a slender margin, said chess experts.

India is one of the joint leaders in the ongoing Chess Olympiad at Baku in Azerbaijan and will be crossing swords with Netherlands in the sixth round on Thursday.

At the end of fifth round the tournament is at a crucial stage for India, according to information received here.

“Indian men’s team is performing extremely well till now with five consecutive wins. The team is very young and going by their games it seems they are playing for a win. Normally the strategy is to aim for a win playing white pieces and a draw with black. But Indian players have won playing black pieces,” Grandmaster (GM) Abhijit Kunte said.

“From the games one can sense the Indian boys are taking each round as a battle to be won,” Kunte added.

According to him, it is perhaps for the first time that an Indian chess team has posted wins in five consecutive rounds.

Citing GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi’s 100 per cent score — winning all his five games, Kunte said it is also perhaps the first time an Indian player has notched up five consecutive wins.

“The Indian men’s team should see that they do not lose any round. They should win each round irrespective of the margin. If they do that and notch up around one point lead over others, then the pressure will be on the other teams,” a chess coach said, not wanting to be named.

Speaking about the sixth round match against the Netherlands, he said much of burden is on Indian GM and World No.15 P. Harikrishna who would fight it out with World No.12 Anish Giri.

“It will be great for other team members if Harikrishna wins against Giri. However, even a draw will be enough to take the burden off the shoulders of other Indian players,” the coach added.

However, Kunte has a different take on the match against the Netherlands while agreeing that the Indian team should focus on winning each round irrespective of the victory margin.

“In my view India has a good chance of notching up a win in the sixth round also.

“The Indian players are young and age is certainly on their side. The Indian and the Netherlands players have similar ratings,” Kunte said.

According to him, the only issue with the Indian men’s team is that it does not have a strong reserve.

“But as all other players are young and raring to go, they can play all the rounds. If the Indian team maintain their going, it is possible for them to get a different coloured medal than the bronze that they got in 2012,” Kunte said.

The other crucial matches slated for Thursday are the US vs Ukraine, Russia vs Germany, China vs Argentina and Georgia vs Cezch Republic.

The biennial World Chess Olympiad is an 11-round Swiss open, with one rest day on September 7. The open section features 181 teams from 176 countries, with 899 players.

By Venkatachari Jagannathan 

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