India can finish on podium in World Team Chess Championships: Surya Sekhar Ganguly

Vastavam web: The likes of Viswanathan Anand and Pentala Harikrishna may have opted out, but India can still finish on the podium at the upcoming World Team Chess Championships in Astana next month, former Asian champion Surya Sekhar Ganguly said Saturday. India’s top three, Anand (world number 7), Harikrishna (26) and Vidit Gujarati (34) have pulled out of the 10-team premier championship for which the country has got a wildcard entry after being nominated by the FIDE president.

In the trio’s absence, India’s challenge in the men’s section will be spearheaded by the next five top rated players — world number 52 B Adhiban, Krishnan Sasikiran (67), SP Sethuraman (102), Surya (130) and Arvind Chithambaram (240). The Moscow meet will serve as a preparation for the World Team Championship which will be played in a all-play-all nine team format.

Surya was the member of the team who won a bronze medal, India’s best achievement till date, at Bursa in Turkey in January 2010. “I’m thrilled that I got a chance and India have also got a wildcard entry. It’s very special for me,” Surya, who recently helped the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board retain their national team title here, said. “I personally will play the World Team after nine years. I have some happy memories of 2010 as I had got an individual gold on board three as well.”

“Of course it would have been much better to have Anand, Hari but who knows what clicks Even we can do well.” Having made a last minute entry, India got little time to prepare for the meet but Surya said all the members would reach three days in advance in the Kazakhstan city and that will give them time for training sessions. Hailing the All India Chess Federation, Surya said: “It’s great that we would not have to return India after playing in Moscow and all of us would reach there (Astana) three days in advance. This was much-needed. It will give us a little bit of training session.”

India had a disappointing outing at the 43rd Chess Olympiad with the men’s team finishing a poor sixth and the women ending their campaign at a lowly eighth spot at Batumi in Georgia last year. “As compared to Olympiad where you might get a weaker team, in World Team it’s not an option. There’s no escape in the World meet. You have to play top teams like (defending champions) China, (runners-up) Russia, USA among others,” he said.