CHENNAI: China will not participate in the 44th Chess Olympiad to be held in nearby Mamallapuram from July 28th.
Responding to a question on the sidelines of the Candidates Tournament, world number two and China’s top player Ding Liren, who is currently playing in Madrid, replied that neither he nor the team would take part in the Olympics.
“No, I don’t think the Chinese team will play,” said Liren.
However, according to AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, who is director of the Olympics tournament, the Chinese gave no reasons for their withdrawal. “Yes… the Chinese (Open) men’s and women’s teams will not play in the Chennai Olympiad. The reasons for this are not clear,” he told PTI.
China would have been one of the best contenders for a medal at the Olympics and their absence would improve India’s chances.
China’s Open team won the gold medal at the Chess Olympiad took place in Batumi (Georgia) in 2018 and in Tromso (Norway) in 2014. The Chinese women’s team won the gold medal at the previous two Olympiads in Baku and Batumi respectively.
According to leading chess coach and grandmaster RB Ramesh, the absence of China, in addition to Russia, improves India’s chances.
“Yes, without China and Russia we increase our chances of a medal,” Ramesh, coach of the Indian “B” team in the open section, told PTI.
Russia and Belarus were banned from participating in tournaments by FIDE (World Chess Federation) following the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February.
Hosts India field two teams each in the Open and Women’s sections, with the possibility of fielding an additional team if the number of entries is odd.
The host country’s best players, including Vidit Gujrathi, P. Harikrishna, K. Sasikiran, R. Praggnanandhaa (among men) and Koneru Humpy, D. Harika, R. Vaishali, Vantika Agarwal (among women), are part of the two different squads for the Open and Women’s events and would be expected to challenge top honors.
Five-time champion Viswanathan Anand signed off and would be mentoring the players.
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