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Chess included in Asian Games
April 18, 2003 16:45 IST
Chess has finally been included in the Asian Games, opening avenues for India to bag an extra
gold medal and establish itself as a formidable chess power in the continent.
Chess will mark its debut in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, as one of the 33 disciplines.
The just concluded Asian team chess championship at Jodhpur, where Indian teams came up with their best-ever performance, bagging one silver and two bronze medals, showed India is among the best in the 64 squares game in Asia.
Though China won both the men's and women's events at Jodhpur, India were without superstar Viswanathan Anand.
The Games, however, would provide a tougher competition with strong chess-playing nations like The Philippines and Indonesia, who were not present in Jodhpur, expected to be part of the field.
Players like Krishnan Sasikiran, Pendyala Harikrishna, Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Dibyendu Barua and Abhijit Kunte, who are expected to be part of the Indian team at Doha, present a strong line-up with youngsters like Abhijit Gupta, G Rohit and Parimarjan Negi also having the potential to stake a claim in the team in the next three years.
If the regular camps organised by the All India Chess Federation are any indication, India's preparations for the Asian Games have already started. Grandmaster Evgeny Vladimirov, who was once in the camp of the world's highest rated player Garry Kasparov, usually imparts coaching to the main players as well as some very talented juniors while Grandmaster Ruslan Sherbakov of Russia and Grandmaster Maxim Sorokin of Argentina are also part of the programme.
The Indian women can also hope to challenge the Chinese as they will most likely be led by Koneru Humpy, the lone Grandmaster amongst the Indian eves. Humpy was the captain of the India 'B' team that played in the open section in Jodhpur.
With D Harika, who won the gold at Jodhpur for best performance on board 4, Tania Sachdev and Eesha Karvade improving by the day it might just become a close shave in the women's event too.
However, for now, China remains a firm favourtie with World champion Zhu Chen, World Cup Champion Xu Yuhua and World Junior Champion Wang Yu in their line up.