Veteran Indian grandmasters Viswanathan Anand and Koneru Humpy remained India’s only unbeaten players at the recently concluded Online Nations Cup.
Commanding the Indian team, the 50-year-old Viswanathan Anand won two of the eight boards that he contested while drawing the remaining as India finished fifth in the six-nation tournament.
His biggest highlight in the competition came in the fifth round when he caught Russian World no. 4 Ian Nepomniachtchi off-guard in 17 moves. With a checkmate imminent, the board was wrapped up in just five minutes.
Viswanathan Anand’s other win came in the seventh round, where he upstaged Azerbaijan’s Teimour Radjabov, as India beat Europe 2 ½ - 1 ½.
Koneru Humpy shines for India
With each match comprising four boards, three men and a woman, the six-member Indian chess contingent fielded Vidit Gujrathi, Harikrishna Pentala and Koneru Humpy the most, alongside Viswanathan Anand.
A gold medallist at the 2006 Asian Games, Koneru Humpy was the only other Indian player after Viswanathan Anand to remain unbeaten in the Online Nations Cup.
Starting her campaign with a victory against United States’ Anna Zatonskih, Koneru Humpy ended the tournament with another win over Russia’s Olga Girya in the tenth round, which remained India’s only one on Saturday.
India’s least-used players were Adhiban Baskaran and Harika Dronavalli.
Vidit Gujrathi falls short
India’s success at the Online Nations Cup hinged heavily on Vidit Gujrathi, who is the second-highest-rated chess player in India after Viswanathan Anand.
However, the grandmaster from Maharashtra ended up being upstaged on five occasions, with his only win coming against Armenia’s Levon Aronian in the eighth round.
Viswanathan Anand had decided to rest on the final day, for the ninth and tenth rounds, as India finished their campaign with a 1.5-2.5 loss in their second-leg against Russia.
The inaugural $180,000 FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup was won by China, whose 2-2 draw with the USA in the superfinal was enough, as they had topped the points table in the round-robin stage.
China won $48,000 as winners while runner-up USA won $36,000. The other teams received $24,000 each.
How was Online Nations Cup played
The FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup followed a double round-robin tournament format, where the two leading teams had to battle for the title in the “superfinal”.
All the rapid chess tournament matches had four boards with a time-limit of 25 minutes each plus a 10-second increment per move.