Chennai: Indian teams narrowly missed out on a podium finish in the Open event and women's section in the recent World Team Chess Championship at Khanty Manisyk in Russia, but coach R B Ramesh feels there are a lot of positives to be taken from the players' performance.
A narrow loss against Russia put paid to India's medal hopes in the open section but Ramesh said it was a good finish after having started with two losses in the tournament.
While the men's team secured 11 points to finish fourth, the women (with 12 points) also ended up fourth, the same as in the previous edition.
"Considering that we started with two losses, it was a great comeback by our team. We defeated many top teams like the USA, Ukraine and Belarus and almost defeated Russia, the top-seed. Overall, a satisfactory performance by the men and women squads. We came close to winning medals in both sections, but faltered in the very end," he told PTI.
"A win against Russia would have ensured a silver medal but due to sheer bad luck we lost the match (1.5-2.5) from a winning position and had to settle for 4th place. We started as the sixth-seeded team, so it wasn't so bad," he said.
About the defeat at the hands of the host, he said, "Painful loss to Russia in the penultimate round. With Vidit (Gujrathi) and K Sasikiran in a dominant position and with B Adhiban and Parimarjan Negi close to making draws it looked like a 3-1 score and a silver medal was possible. However, it was not to be."
Negi's loss to Vladimir Fedoseev in the match against Russia resulted in a defeat at a crucial juncture and hurt India's medal prospects, he said.
Ramesh praised Gujrathi and Adhiban for their play in the championship. "(Vidit) Gujrathi played high quality chess throughout the tournament and put all his opponents under pressure but could not convert the advantage into wins."
On the other hand, he said "Chennai player Adhiban recovered well from the two losses he suffered in the first two rounds by winning three games in a row as a result of which we won those three matches."
Among the women, he said, Dronavalli Harika and Tania Sachdev played on the top two boards and handled the top players of other teams well. Eesha Karvade and Padmini Rout provided many crucial wins for the Indian team and in the process increased their rating points too.
"Karvade didn't start too well but improved during the course of the tournament. With each round, she got better and improved her play and results," he said.
Ramesh said the experienced S Vijayalakshmi was impressive despite not being able to convert strong positions into wins. "Vijayalakshmi didn't convert few good positions into wins like Vidit (Gujrathi). Otherwise her performance was also quite impressive."
Adhiban with five wins, three losses and one draw, was a key performer for India, along with Gujrati, who drew eight games on the trot after winning in the opening tie against Poland.
Reflecting on his tournament, Adhiban said, the team "played great. (Vidit) Gujrati and Sasikiran remained unbeaten," he said.
"National champion Karthikeyan Murali, Negi and me had a good run. If we had seized our chances, we could have got the bronze (medal) or better."
"No team will take us lightly any more," he said while rating the Indians' display in the meet.
He rated his win over Ukraine's Anton Korobov as the best in the tournament.
"I enjoyed the win over Korobov. He was the reason for India missing out on a podium in the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku. So I was happy to exact some revenge," Adhiban said.
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Updated Date: Jun 30, 2017 13:25:40 IST