Indian players finished with a whopping nine medals, including a historic bronze in the women’s section, at the FIDE Chess Olympiad 2022 which concluded in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
The meet was the 44th edition of the biennial chess tournament and was being held for the first time since 2018 due to COVID-19. There were online iterations held in 2020 and 2021 but these were dubbed the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad.
The highlight of India’s medal haul from the 2022 Chess Olympiad was the women’s team’s bronze medal - the first-ever for India in the women’s section.
The India A team, comprising Koneru Humpy, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni, secured the bronze medal after a 3-1 loss to the USA in the final-round match. Ukraine won the gold medal while Georgia claimed the silver.
“The team has worked really hard in the last three or four months and this is India’s first-ever medal in the history of the Olympics. This should be the beginning of much better days for women’s chess in India,” Abhijit Kunte, the India A coach, said.
The first women’s chess Olympiad was held in 1957. Since 1976, women and Open sections have been held together.
In the Open section, the young India B team of D Gukesh, Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa and Raunak Sadhwani handed the country its second bronze medal after thrashing Germany 3-1. Uzbekistan and Armenia bagged the gold and silver medals, respectively.
“Overall, it has been a very enjoyable event. I didn’t expect us to perform so well but it could have been better,” said D Gukesh.
It was India’s second bronze medal in the Open section at the Olympiad after winning it once before in 2014.
Besides the two medals in the team events, India also won seven individual medals, including two gold, one silver and four bronze.
D Gukesh and Nihal Sarin won the gold medals on the men’s board 1 and board 2, respectively, while Arjun Erigaisi bagged the silver medal on board 3. R Praggnanandhaa (men’s board 3), R Vaishali (women’s board 3), Tania Sachdev (women’s Board 3) and Divya Deshmukh (women’s reserve board) claimed individual bronze medals.
India also won the prestigious Gaprindashvili Cup, given to the nation for their collective performance in both Open and women's sections.
Indian chess grandmaster and five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, who decided against playing the Chess Olympiad, was the mentor to the Indian players for the event.
It was also the first time India hosted the Chess Olympiad. Nearly 350 teams in the open and women’s sections from 187 countries were competing.
FIDE Chess Olympiad 2022: Indian medal winners
India A (Koneru Humpy, R Vaishali, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni) - Bronze in women’s team section
India B (D Gukesh, Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa and Raunak Sadhwani) - Bronze in open section
D Gukesh - gold in men’s board 1
Nihal Sarin - gold in men’s board 2
Arjun Erigaisi - silver in men’s board 3
R Praggnanandhaa - bronze in men’s board 3
R Vaishali - bronze in women’s board 3
Tania Sachdev - bronze in women’s Board 3
Divya Deshmukh - bronze in women’s reserve board