After all the drama of India 2 yesterday, I was hoping that at least the women’s team, which had come through relatively unscathed to this point and was leading, would have a good day. But, of all the days to have a bad day was today, when you can no longer repair the damage.
Humpy had a very imaginative sacrifice, but unfortunately, it seems that the precision required after that was quite high. Tania’s opening just didn’t work out. On top of that, Bhakti played a plan, which turned out quite flawed. And so, very soon, we were in very, very big trouble there.
Once Ukraine dispatched Poland in style, the championship left our hands. A first bronze from the women’s section is still very special for Indian chess.
I really commend Ramesh and all the players in India 2 to pull themselves together. In fact, I had the chance to meet many of them yesterday evening, and they had kind of taken it on the chin and we’re getting ready to play a game today. They deserved the gold, but to take the bronze with a commanding last-round victory is commendable.
As for India 1, I would like to single out Arjun’s performance. He played all 11 rounds and his score improved dramatically in the last few rounds with a couple of wins. I think no one will dispute that Gukesh had the performance of the Olympiad. Eight points from eight rounds is a world record, and his gold medal on Board 1 is a really a colossal achievement. This was a high-scoring Olympiad where the top boards were scoring heavily.
Vaishali’s bronze on Board 3, Tania’s bronze on Board 4 and Divya’s bronze as a reserve, are decent performances. As I said Tania was the lynchpin of the Indian team’s performance, while Humpy and Harika were doing steady performances, holding down the top two boards. Tanya was the one scoring very often and Bhakti also contributed some crucial wins, and it’s very sad that they both lost today.
I’m just so proud of Nihal as well for his gold on Board 2. And, I think, at least these individual golds make up a little bit for the team’s disappointment. As I said before, Arjun also had a phenomenal performance if he didn’t win a team medal. I think it takes nothing away from that.
By the way, Arjun and Gukesh both crossed 2,700 in live ratings. It’s amazing every one of our guys won something because Arjun won silver and Praggnanandhaa a bronze, and that’s just so cool. Honestly, hearing all this makes me feel much better.