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“He is not the only one crying”, Chess Olympiad 2022 is over

The Chess Olympiad 2022 in Chennai, India is officially over but will definitely stay alive in our minds as one of the most impressive, heartwarming, intense, refreshing, and promising chess events of all time. Uzbekistan won the Open Section of the Olympiad, while in the Women’s section the Ukrainian anthem had a great impact in all of us.

Photos: Lennart Ootes, Madelene Belinki, Stev Bonhage

The 44th Chess Olympiad 2022 started in Chennai much earlier than the 28th of July.
🔸 Bridges and roads were painted black and white
🔸 The Olympiad anthem was composed by the legendary AR Rahman and the video also featured Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin other than the music maestro
🔸 With an impressive ceremony at the IG Stadium in New Delhi on the 19th of June, India welcomed chess players and the chess fraternity from around the world to celebrate the very first torch relay in a Chess Olympiad
🔸 The opening ceremony at the sprawling Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium was beyond dazzling with an unprecedented number of volunteers
🔸 The Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself declared Olympiad open
🔸 187 countries registered, a new world record in terms of the number of participating countries in a single edition of the Olympiad

Open Section

After two weeks of amazing chess, Uzbekistan got the first place with the 17-year-old World Rapid Champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov winning the silver on Board 1 with a 2803 performance and the 16-year-old Javokhir Sindarov winning the  gold medal on Board 4, with a 2813 performance! Uzbekistan has won the silver medal in 1992 when none of the current team had yet been born (!), and will host the 2026 Olympiad.

Armenia, Olympiad winners in 2006, 2008 and 2012, finished second besides missing Levon Aronian, who was among the first to congratulate them.

India B got the third place but was the star of the Olympiad. A team full of teenagers, whose performance was unreal, made this event unforgettable. Gukesh came back after R10 terrible loss against Abdusattorov, drew against Vincent Keymer, and took a well deserved gold medal on Board 1 with a 2867 performance. Also, GM Nihal Sarin took the gold medal on Board 2 and commented: “[Gukesh] was really in such great form, he was carrying our team. Okay, he was winning earlier, so I guess he just wanted to win at all costs, which backfired.”

Women’s Section

A Section in which India was dominating until the very end, Ukraine took the gold medal on tiebreaks against Georgia. A very touching moment was when the Ukrainian national anthem was played at the Closing Ceremony, which had vastly more meaning than in happier times.

The Indian women’s team had been rock solid and was very close on winning the gold to lose against the USA and end up with a respectful bronze medal. Tania Sachdev, who played all games and was on an unbeaten +6, lost to Carissa Yip and won a bronze medal on Board 4. Vantika Agrawal made her second IM norm and crossed 2400 in live ratings, while Vaishali Rameshbabu won the bronze on Board 3 to “escape” from her brother’s shadow.


The one thing we will never forget for sure is the 16-year-old Gukesh having a 3031 performance after a perfect 8/8 score with wins against Fabiano Caruana, Alexei Shirov, and Gabriel Sargissian to gain 24.4 points, and climb to No.24 and become the 2nd Indian behind Anand!

Gukesh was the one as well who gave us one of the most heartbreaking moments of the Olympiad. “He is not the only one crying” Rakesh Kulkarni tweeted after Gukesh’s piece blunder against Abdusattorov to cost India B the win against Uzbekistan and – most likely – the gold medal.

Another high-schooler stood out at the Olympiad and it’s not the first time! 17-year-old World Rapid Champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov might have missed the 2700 club after his last draw against Anish Giri, but he won against Fabiano Caruana, and the until then unbeatable Gukesh.

A sad thing to watch was Caruana’s poor performance. After losing against Gukesh, Caruana was out of the top 10, first time since March 2013. The loss to Gukesh followed losses to Nodirbek Abdusattorov and Gabriel Sargissian, and saw him plunge to world No. 14. The once World No.2 managed to bounce back in his last rounds but still couldn’t “repair the damage” to currently be No.9, losing 18.3 rating points.

Definitely the most shocking moment of the Olympiad was the illegal pre-move by Sam Shankland on Round 7 which costed the US team a win against Armenia. Shankland overlooked his opponent’s last move and touched the king with every move losing immediately.

One of the few events that Magnus Carlsen participated but was not the center of attention was the 2022 Olympiad. The World Champion scored 7.5/9 to win the bronze medal on Board 1 with a 2803 performance.

India A wasn’t on the spotlight like India B but Arjun Erigaisi, the only high-schooler who smuggled onto the Indian first team won the silver on Board 3, gained 13.2 and passed 2700 for the first time.

Lastly, we couldn’t leave behind the contribution and kind presence of RB Ramesh, captain and coach of India B, who had a very challenging mission and proved that the young generation of Indian players is one to watch and expect great things!

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