World Youth 2018: Can India win a medal?
The World Championships for under-14, 16 and 18 are being held in Greece from the 20th to the 30th of October 2018. 25 Indians have participated in this event. Seven rounds have been completed and the Indian players who are in top ten places are Sankalp Gupta, Kushagra Mohan, Tejaswini Sagar and L. Jyothsna. There are a few players like Divya Deshmukh and Mrudul Dehankar who have a good chance for a podium finish if they play well in the last four rounds. Indian chess faces a grave problem in such youth tournaments that the best players of the country do not participate in the World Youth Championships. Hence, the chances of us winning medals is significantly reduced. In this article we try to touch upon this problem and hope that a solution is found.
The World Youth Championships 2018 are being held in Porto Carras Grand Resort, Chalkidikki, Greece from 20th to the 30th of October 2018. The best players from all over the world in under-14, 16 and 18 categories have gathered together and are playing in six different sections. India has a contingent of 25 players vying for the top spots.
A couple of years ago we used to have all the sections under-8, 10, 12 and 14,16,18 together. India would always come back with the highest tally of medals because our kids would usually reign supreme in the under-8, 10 and 12 categories. Since this bifurcation has been made (the under-8,10,12 will be held later in a few days in Spain), India has always struggled in the under-14,16 and 18 section. This year too, the chances of our players winning a medal depends upon the results in last four rounds, but we do not have any player in top three spots after seven rounds.
Why is this the case? It is because most of the top players in various age categories have not been taking part in the national events and also in the world youth tournament. Take for example the under-18 section. Players born in 2001 can take part. Our top player is GM Aryan Chopra born in 2001, but he was playing in the India-China match. P. Iniyan born in 2002 is already rated 2476, but he isn't the participating. Arjun Erigaisi, who is already a GM, and born in 2003 is also not to be seen. Nihal Sarin, Prithu Gupta, Praggnanandhaa, Raunak Sadhwani are all playing at the Isle of Man International 2018. It is quite clear - if you do not have your highest rated players fighting for the top prizes, the chances of India winning the medals are also lower.
Overview of Indian performances after seven rounds
|30||FM||Mitrabha Guha||2352||IND||1||0||½||1||1||0||1||4,5||22||Open 18|
|83||Manu David Suthandram R||1970||IND||½||½||0||1||½||½||½||3,5||48||Open 18|
|28||Sankalp Gupta||2352||IND||1||1||1||0||1||½||½||5,0||9||Open 16|
|30||Koustav Chatterjee||2344||IND||1||1||0||0||½||1||1||4,5||27||Open 16|
|73||Vatsal Singhania||2128||IND||0||1||0||1||½||0||1||3,5||56||Open 16|
|110||Garvit Kumar Kalra||1620||IND||0||½||0||1||½||½||0||2,5||96||Open 16|
|3||IM||Raja Rithvik R||2421||IND||1||½||½||1||½||1||½||5,0||14||Open 14|
|26||CM||Kushagra Mohan||2283||IND||1||1||½||½||½||1||1||5,5||8||Open 14|
|40||AGM||Srihari L R||2170||IND||1||1||0||1||1||0||½||4,5||24||Open 14|
|12||WIM||Chitlange Sakshi||2237||IND||1||1||1||0||½||0||1||4,5||12||Girls 18|
|14||Priyanka K||2207||IND||1||1||1||½||0||½||0||4,0||27||Girls 18|
|20||WFM||Arpita Mukherjee||2147||IND||1||1||0||½||1||½||½||4,5||14||Girls 18|
|22||WIM||Tejaswini Sagar||2139||IND||1||1||0||1||1||½||1||5,5||5||Girls 18|
|30||WFM||Tarini Goyal||2026||IND||1||½||½||1||½||½||0||4,0||24||Girls 18|
|5||WFM||Makhija Aashna||2197||IND||1||½||1||0||1||½||½||4,5||19||Girls 16|
|21||WFM||Salonika Saina||2093||IND||1||1||1||½||½||0||½||4,5||13||Girls 16|
|26||Meenal Gupta||2065||IND||0||1||1||1||0||1||½||4,5||22||Girls 16|
|40||Sanskriti Goyal||1971||IND||1||0||1||½||0||1||1||4,5||27||Girls 16|
|44||Shanya Mishra||1924||IND||1||1||0||½||0||1||0||3,5||37||Girls 16|
|52||Tejasvi M||1869||IND||0||1||0||1||0||½||1||3,5||53||Girls 16|
|86||Sagar Siya||1310||IND||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||2,0||82||Girls 16|
|4||WIM||Divya Deshmukh||2180||IND||1||1||0||1||1||0||1||5,0||10||Girls 14|
|11||WCM||Jyothsna L||2060||IND||1||1||1||½||½||1||½||5,5||4||Girls 14|
|16||WFM||Dhyana Patel||2002||IND||1||1||½||0||1||1||0||4,5||20||Girls 14|
|20||WCM||Mrudul Dehankar||1996||IND||1||1||0||1||1||0||1||5,0||12||Girls 14|
The top three players in open and girls section in Indian nationals under-13, 15, and 17 qualify for the world youth championships under-14, 16, 18 next year. All their costs are covered by the Government of India. The question to be asked is whether we should continue with the current practice or send top three rated players in each section. If we do the latter then the chances of India winning the medals is much higher. However, this approach has the negative point that the national tournaments lose some of their charm. The ideal scenario would be to get all our top players to fight it out in the national championships. But why would our grandmasters like Nihal Sarin, Praggnanandhaa, or aspiring GMs like Prithu Gupta or Gukesh want to play in the National championships? This is a big question which needs to be resolved by All India Chess Federation (AICF). There has to be sufficient motivation for some of our best talents to play in the national tournaments, or there should be a direct all expenses paid entry to the World Youth above a certain rating. Only then will India have the chance to fight against super powers like Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, etc. who are sending some of their best players to these tournaments.