Chess Olympiad: Raunak Sadhwani, D Gukesh lead India B to stunning win over top seed USA

Raunak Sadhwani and D Gukesh guided India B to a stunning win over top-seeded USA at the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, on Saturday.

Young Indian Grandmaster Gukesh notched up a sensational eighth successive win as India B shocked the star-studded USA 3-1 in a massive upset in the open section’s eighth-round encounter.

A team comprising of four talented debutants — Gukesh, Raunak Sadhwani, Nihal Sarin, and R Praggnanandhaa – surprised the strong contender for the title, USA quite easily.

Meanwhile, the top Indian team in the fray, second-seeded India A, lost to Armenia 1.5-2.5 while India C suffered a 1-3 defeat against Peru.

Extending his sensational unbeaten run at the prestigious tournament, the 16-year-old Gukesh upstaged former World Championship Challenger Fabiano Caruana in a critical game on the top board.

This was one of the most impressive debuts in the history of the Olympiad. Only the former world champion Vladimir Kramnik set a record of 8.5/9 in 1992, clocking a 2958 rating performance. By the seventh round, Gukesh had clocked a 3300 plus performance.

Chess Olympiad: Raunak Sadhwani upset higher-rated Leinier Perez Dominguez

Nagpur-based GM Raunak Sadhwani played brilliantly to defeat the much higher rated Leinier Perez Dominguez. Sarin and Pragnanandhaa held off other strong opponents, Levon Aronian and Wesley So, respectively, with almost effortless ease.

RB Ramesh, the coach of India B team said:

“From the beginning, we had all the intentions of figuring in the top-3 and with Gukesh going to such great guns, it very much looks a possibility.”

India Women's B team player Divya Deshmukh of Nagpur in action during an eighth round match in Chess Olympiad in Chennai on Saturday
India Women’s B team player Divya Deshmukh of Nagpur in action during an eighth round match in Chess Olympiad in Chennai on Saturday

Gukesh clinched the game on the 45th turn. He has three extra pieces on the board, which indicates his sheer dominance. After the match, Gukesh said:

“Fabiano is my favorite player and it was a pleasure to be pitted against him. Initially, I was caught in the opening as it went along unfamiliar lines for me. It was slightly worse. After he played a dubious move, I got back into the game.”

Meanwhile, in the women’s section, India B thrashed Croatia by 3.5-0.5 score. India A, who had been going great guns with seven victories before this match, were held to a 2-2 draw by second-seeded Ukraine in an intensely fought encounter. India C lost to Poland by 1-3.

Despite Saturday’s loss, India A continued to be the sole leader with 15 points, followed by Georgia with 14 points to their credit in the Chess Olympiad.

Edited by Akshay Saraswat

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