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Asian Nations Cup 2018 - A window to the Batumi Olympiad

by Sagar Shah - 10/08/2018

The Asian Nations Cup proved to be a mixed bag for team India. In the open section we finished second in the classical format winning the silver medal, while in the women's section we had to settle for the bronze. However, in the blitz that followed, the women's team were simply altogether at a different level and won the gold medal with a huge margin. The men's team could manage only a fourth place finish. The biggest find of the tournament were the Iran (Green) team which won the gold in rapid, classical and blitz section beating strong teams like India and China. Iran has the same team for the Olympiad as well. In this article we look at our performance and also analyze what it means for the Olympiad in Batumi 2018.

Let's first begin with the good news!

Indian women's team consisting of Harika, Eesha, Padmini, Vaishali and Aakanksha won the gold medal in the women's blitz category. A new face in the picture is the 27-year-old coach of the team GM Swapnil Dhopade!

Each and every player took the responsibility on their shoulders and performed admirably. Especially heartening was to see Harika firing at the top board and young guns Vaishali and Aakanksha Hagawane showing great courage to topple strong opposition

India was dominant beating second placed Vietnam with a score of 3.5:0.5, and also strong teams of Kazakhstan and Iran by a huge margin. The only team that could hold us to a draw was China

Big smiles! A great achievement by the team

After the blitz section ended Harika posted the news about her victory on Twitter:

Harika's happy tweet after winning the gold in blitz

The below reaction was not expected:

There can be a controversy created out of nothing!

But Harika didn't let it pass! She answered with the following tweet:

Harika decided to retaliate and she gave a fine answer

Women's team ended third in the classical section

Looking ahead for Batumi Olympiad 2018, we see that three of the women players in the Asian Nations Cup team are the same as the Olympiad 2018: Harika, Eesha and Padmini. 

Team India's performance in the classical section of Asian Nations Cup

All of them performed solidly. Harika on board one was unshakeable. Eesha lost a game, but 4.0/6 isn't bad at all. And Padmini was not in her best form but she is already showing some good results in Abu Dhabi Open that is currently in progress. The two youngsters Vaishali and Aakanksha got a great experience of playing at this level. They will be replaced by Humpy and Tania for the Olympiad 2018. Also the coach of the team would be Jacob Aagaard and it seems that we are ideally posted for a podium finish. 

Humpy with her 11-month-old daughter Ahana and husband Anvesh. It will be such an exciting moment for Indian chess fans to see Humpy back on the chess board after a period of two years!

The Indian team will be the fourth seeds at the Olympiad. The teams above us are Russia, Ukraine and China. We have a realistic chance of a podium finish this year!

Team India!

Open section:

In the open section we were held to two draws by Kazakhstan and China and we lost to the young Iran team. It wasn't the best of performances by the team, but we showed our mettle by winning the last two rounds in the classical section with a big margin over Vietnam and Iran White and ended with the silver medal.

Team India wins the silver medal in the classical section. The players with the coach R.B. Ramesh

Sasikiran Krishnan played some beautiful games in the event. Here is one of his finest wins:

In this well known position, white has moved his rook to all the possible squares. But Sasikiran was in his element and he simply moved his king to h1, sacrificing the exchange!

After a few moves the bishops and the pawns were just too strong!

Surya Sekhar Ganguly also played two scintillating games in rounds six and seven. You can check them out below. There are mind boggling complications and instead of not doing appropriate justice to the game, we decided to leave it unannotated:

Indian team finished second behind the Iranian team!

The young Iranian team was just unbeatable as they scored three golds in all three sections! From left to right: Masoud Mosadeghpour, Parham Maghsoodloo, Pouya Idani, Alireza Firouzja and Amin Tabatabaei

The team was helped by coach Ivan Sokolov

Iran has planned its strategy well. This team of youngsters at the Asian Nations Cup 2018 is the same one that will represent Iran at the Olympiad in Batumi 2018. Although they are the 22nd seeds, I have a feeling that they will be giving the top teams a run for their money.

The Indian team will be boosted by the presence of Vishy Anand, Harikrishna Pentala and Vidit Gujrathi for the Olympiad. In addition we have Sasikiran and Adhiban, both capable of beating the best players in the world. There are absolutely no weak links in this team! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

USA, Russia, China and Azerbaijan are strong teams, but with an average of 2723, and coach R.B. Ramesh on our side, I see no reason why we don't stand a chance to win the gold!

What do you think are the chances of Indian team (men and women) at the Batumi Olympiad that will take place in Georgia from the 24th of September to 5th October 2018. Do you think we can finish on the podium with a medal? Let us know in the comments section below.