Chennai: On a day when China annexed the Olympiad chess gold medal, India captured the bronze crushing Uzbekistan 3.5-0.5. Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Padmini Rout won the gold medal on the fifth board while Grandmaster (GM) K. Sasikiran took home the silver medal.
China defeated Poland 3-1 to claim the gold medal in the 11th and final round of the 41st World Chess Olympiad held in Norway.
The 19th-seeded Indian open team was tied for the second-third place with Hungary, Russia and Azerbaijan for silver/bronze medal.
Finally, on a better tie-breaker score, Hungary clinched the silver and India the bronze ahead of Russia, Armenia and several other higher-rated teams.
"It is a wonderful performance by the Indian team. Not losing even a single game on the second, third and fourth boards was the most critical aspect for the team," world number 26 and Indian Grandmaster (GM) P. Harikrishna told IANS.
"All the players played well and my hearty congratulations to the team," Harikrishna said.
Prior to leaving for Norway, an Indian team member told IANS that they expected to finish in the top eight.
"It was a great performance to win a bronze in the Olympiad without top players in the team. We are all elated and it was a collective performance from all. Everyone contributed in their own way to make this possible," R.B. Ramesh, Indian team manager told IANS.
"We will qualify for World Team Championship as a result of this performance. We get bronze and Sasikiran wins silver medal on board two! We lost only two games out of 44 games which shows the consistency of our players," Ramesh added.
Reacting to the Indian team`s performance, All India Chess Federation secretary V. Hariharan told IANS: "We are all happy. The players have played with good team spirit."
Perhaps the first Indian chess connection with Norway was in 1979 when two players from India V. Ravikumar and Ramesh went there to participate in the World Chess Juniors Championship.
Speaking to IANS, R. Raghunathan who went to Norway as team manager said: "Personally I am elated..."
He said the achievement is more joyous as it comes on the eve of India`s 68th Independence Day.
This is the first time India is winning a medal in the Chess Olympiad.