But India is still doing well without them!
India is putting up a good show at the Chess Olympiad now under way in Dresden, Germany. The men are among the top teams at the end of the fourth round despite the absence of world champion Viswanathan Anand.
They surrendered to Russia very narrowly, with Sasikaran drawing, in a winning position, with Vladmir Kramnik who lost the world title to Anand recently. Harikrishna, who had a good run at the last Olympiad in Turin, (Italy – 2006), downed Peter Svidler.
Russia had higher ranked players on all four boards, so it was a creditable performance from the Indians. In fact, Sasikaran was on the verge of pulling off a sensational win against Kramnik when he agreed to a draw.
The Indian women fared better, drawing with top-seeded Russia 2-2, without the presence of Konery Humpy, our number-one player. The following blog is worth checking for updates on the Olympiad — http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2008/11/16/2008-chess-olympiad-round-4/
Most of the world’s top players (including Kramnik, Topolav, Magnus Carlssen and Svidler) are representing their respective countries at the world’s premier team event held once in two years.
So, why are India’s top two players, Anand and Humpy, missing from it? Anand wanted to take time off after the recent world title match (but Kramnik, who must be just as exhausted, is playing for Russia) and Humpy appears to have committed to playing in another individual tournament.
Well, news reports have it that Humpy will be presented with an award in Chennai on Nov. 19.
Forgettable 2006 outing for Anand, Humpy: Anand played at the last Olympiad and had a forgettable outing, losing to an unknown player (Canada’s Charbonneau Pascal) and finishing the event with just a 50% score. India, seeded second then, finished 30th while China ended up second in the men’s event and third in women’s. Indian women finished 12th then even with top-ranked Humpy on the team. Humpy was not impressive, losing a match to Zhukova of Ukraine. Both Anand and Humpy were the top-ranked players in the Olympiad then.
So, do our top players give their best only when they play for themselves and not for the country? Is their poor performance in 2006 the main reason for their absence from this year’s event? Importantly, are they right in forsaking the country in critical tournaments such as this?
I am not privy to their individual circumstances that led them to skip the Olympiad. But I have reason to be disappointed.
— G Joslin Vethakumar