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Will top seed India win the World Youth Olympiad 2017?

by Sagar Shah - 10/12/2017

With a rating average of 2503 and talents like Aryan Chopra, Praggnanandhaa and Nihal Sarin India green team is definitely a favourite to win the World Youth Olympiad 2017. But they will have some stiff competition from Iran, Russia and Armenia. Not to forget India's blue and red teams. The games begin from the 11th of December. For now we bring you the colourful opening ceremony with some of the brilliant pictures by the official photographer of the event Amruta Mokal.

One of the biggest dreams for any chess player is to represent his country at the Olympiad. The Olympiad is held every two years and the next one will be in Batumi, Georgia in 2018. The only other event which is comparable to the Olympiad is the World Youth Olympiad under-16! These talented young boys and girls get an opportunity to feel what it would be like to play for the country. It’s a preparation for the Olympiad which they would play after a few years. In fact some of the youngsters are already a part of the main Olympiad team!


The World Youth Olympiad 2017 is being held from 10th to the 19th of December 2017 in Karnavati Club in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Each team consists of four boards and it is compulsory that the female player in your team plays at least three rounds out of the stipulated nine.


Chess is mainly an individualistic game and to play in a team gives you important lessons of camaraderie, understanding and team spirit. You cannot just make some rash decision in your game as the entire team will have to suffer the consequences. In that sense the responsibility on your shoulders is considerably higher. But so is the glory. Nothing can be sweeter than finding that winning continuation when you team is tied at a score of 1.5 points a-piece.


This World Youth Olympiad 2017 is a special event. We have 30 teams participating this year from six continents. 

Team-Starting rank

No. TeamRtgAvg
India Green2503
India Red2334
India Blue2333
Sri Lanka1824
South Africa A1778
Nepal A1684
South Africa B1646
Nepal B1541
Kenya B1539
Kenya A1102

This is truly a global event. Here are a few statistics comparing the current world youth Olympiad with the one that was held in 2016 in Slovakia. In 2016 we had 40 countries taking part, this time we have 25. The quantity of teams has reduced, but the quality has increased tremendously. 2016 had only 4 IMs and no GMs taking part. While this time we have 14 IMs and also one Grandmaster – Aryan Chopra.

The average rating of the top seed in 2016 was 2461, while this time the Indian team which is the top seed has an average rating of 2503. Iran, Russia and Armenia all have a rating average of above 2400. This is going to be a tremendously well fought event.

Two youngsters representing India Green are here with their superstar mom!
Praggnanandhaa speaks about his past few tournaments and how breaking Karjakin's record is not the most important thing for him

The only GM of the event - Aryan Chopra with his superstar dad!
Aryan Chopra became a GM at the age of 14 years and 7 months! He is surely one of India's prodigious talents who is maturing into a fine player.

Nihal Sarin just finished his tournament in London where he narrowly missed out on a GM norm by half a point. He will be reaching Ahmedabad on 11th morning. Iniyan just reached Ahmedabad at night. FM Prasenjit Dutta is the coach of the team. Speaking to ChessBase India Prasenjit said, "This team is a bundle of talent and this does not need my certification. Personally while I am the appointed trainer, I think it will be a great opportunity for me to learn a lot from this massive talent pool - Aryan, Praggnanandhaa, Nihal, Iniyan and Vaishali, I think this is the sum of the current brigade who are likely to make it very big in coming years. I guess I am very blessed to be part of this journey in the World Youth Olympiad and god willing, we will win!"

1GMAryan Chopra2536IND50844230,0
2IMPraggnanandhaa R2517IND250595300,0
3IMNihal Sarin2507IND250923400,0
4IMIniyan P2452IND250027670,0
5WIMVaishali R2329IND50917560,0

The Iranian team arrived from a long journey and had to wait for their rooms. So instead of attending the opening ceremony, they decided to take some rest. This is their team composition which is extremely strong:

1IMTabatabaei M.Amin2573IRI125212130,0
2IMFirouzja Alireza2526IRI125739810,0
3IMGholami Aryan2479IRI125133420,0
4Gholami Orimi Mahdi2298IRI125584860,0
5Mahdian Anousha1998IRI125714900,0

Interview with coach of the Iranian team. Iran has won this event in 2015 and 2016. They will be looking to repeat this feat and make it a hat-trick! 

The Russian squad with their coach Mikhail Kobalia
1IMLomasov Semen2516RUS241648790,0
2IMLobanov Sergei2441RUS241837500,0
3FMGaifullin Artur2417RUS241686530,0
4FMFakhrutdinov Timur2408RUS241767020,0
5WIMObolentseva Alexandra2328RUS241536480,0

Fourth seeds Armenia
1IMHakobyan Aram2465ARM133066770,0
2IMSargsyan Shant2453ARM133067660,0
3FMMirzoyan David2345ARM133083860,0
4FMGharibyan Mamikon2342ARM133083000,0
5Sargsyan Anna M.2160ARM133081300,0

Tenth seeds Belarus
1FMZarubitski Viachaslau2330BLR135093730,0
2WIMBadelka Olga2388BLR135099260,0
3Ivannikau Maksim2221BLR135112200,0
4Kotau Arseni2145BLR135104950,0

Happy faces! Nepal is here with two teams!

Will coach IM Alex Wohl be able to create magic with the Australian team?
1Parle Hughston2029AUS32254530,0
2CMZhao Isaac1975AUS32267510,0
3Yang Gordon1693AUS32299040,0
4Watkins Sophie1131AUS32328400,0
5Watkins Bridgette0AUS32339870,0

Sahapol Nakhnavich is here with the Thai team
1Plakwongsirikul Sakkaranant1506THA62044140,0
2AIMPrasitsoonthorn Teerachoti1847THA62044220,0
3Asavasaetakul Chawit1704THA62048560,0
4Laohawirapap Prin1724THA62050030,0
5Chuensuwonkul Pariyakul1373THA62045970,0

The Iraqis are here!
1FMMoazaz Dhahir Habeeb2046IRQ48074210,0
2FMRabeea Sabah Nori2039IRQ48062120,0
3Ahmed Jaza Jamal2037IRQ48085090,0
4Nabaa Sami Abbas1755IRQ48062550,0
5WCMAl-Fayyadh Yamama Asif Abdula1718IRQ48067000,0

Round one will take place on 11th of December at 14.30 hours IST.

Pictorial impressions by Amruta Mokal:

That's what you could find outside the Karnavati Club, the place where the tournament is being held!

That's Mr. Rook!

The Bishop seems to be in high spirits!

The king at the entrance

The central council meeting of AICF was held ahead of the inauguration ceremony of the World Youth | Photo: Amruta Mokal

This huge room in the Karnavati club will be the tournament hall for the World Youth Olympiad 2017

The entire AICF central council and Gujarat players and officials

Gujarat's well known chess personalities - Arpi Shah, Nirav Rajasuba and Tejas Bakre

Lighting of the lamp

The man who made this tournament possible in Gujarat - Gujarat State Chess Association Presient Ajay Patel

AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan with Gujarat State Secretary Bhavesh Patel
Powerful speech by FIDE Vice President D.V. Sundar at the opening ceremony of the World Youth Olympiad 2017

The deciding of colours was done in a fun ceremony where the coaches had to burst a balloon, and the paper inside would tell you the colour of your team. A wonderful capture by Amruta Mokal!

The look!


If you are in Gujarat you have to play the Dandiya!

The infectious smile!

Doing it with all his heart!

Splendid dance formations!

Perhaps one of the best choreographed opening ceremonies

One man who has been working tirelessly to ensure the success of the event is Ankit Dalal. He was the master of ceremony.

This tournament will also witness the use of a new chess set by DGT. It looks like a wooden chess set, but is made from plastic. This makes it very light weight and also cost effective. ChessBase India caught up with the CEO of DGT Hans Pees and asked him to share some of the salient features of this new chess set.

All pictures in this report have been taken by India's ace photographer Amruta Mokal. She is seen in this picture with coach of the Malaysian team Peter Long.

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