Hari Hara Nandanan/TNN
Chennai, Nov 13: India begin their campaign in the Chess Olympiad, the biennial team event which gets underway in Dresden (Germany) but the Indian team will be without Vishwanathan Anand and Koneru Humpy. Indian men are ranked 13th and women 11th in the Dresden Olympiad where Russia, Ukraine and China are the top three teams in both the men's and women's sections in that order.
Despite their absence, India will still draw some strength from the fact that they had done well even when both these players weren't around. In Istanbul in 2000, Indian men finished eighth with Krishnan Sasikiran playing on the top board. Both Anand and Humpy led their sides in Calvia in 2004 when Indian men returned their best placing (sixth) and women came ninth.
This year's team looks well-settled as they reached Dresden 10 days before the start of the competition and had their final round of preparation under coaches Lev Psakhis and Elizbar Ubilava and asssited by Indian coach K Visweswaran.
"We had good preparation for this event," said All India Chess Federation (AICF) secretary DV Sundar. "We had three camps, for the men in Chennai and women in Delhi and the teams have jelled well."
The men's team has an average rating of 2634 with Krishnan Sasikiran (2694), Pentala Harikrishna (2659), Surya Sekhar Ganguly (2603), GN Gopal (2548) and Sandipan Chanda (2579) making an all-GM unit.
Dronavalli Harika (2461) leads the women's team assisted by Tania Sachdev (2425), Nisha Mohota (2311), Swati Ghate (2320) and Mary Ann Gomes (2298). The team will miss Vijayalakshmi Subburaman, who had won silver in two Olympiads.
Viji is still rated to be in the team but according to sources she has not been active for more than a year since the death of her father.
This Olympiad will be different in two key rules. One of them is the ban on draws before move 30, more like the Linares in the 1990s when the draw was abolished with penalty. The second is even more interesting as teams get two points for victory, one for draw and zero for loss: in effect, the 4-0 win in men' s section is as good as a 2.5-1.5 win because both of them will fetch only two points.
There is another rule that will demand the players' discipline in this Olympiad. That is, all the players must be present when the game starts (when the clock starts) or else the game will be forfeited.
The organisers of this Olympiad have listed 2000 participants at Dresden from 152 registered nations. Dresden surpasses the previous Olympiad 2006 in Turin with seven additional countries. There are a total of 275 teams, 156 in the main tournament, including a second German team, teams for the deaf, blind, and correspondence chess players. In the women's sections there are 119 teams.