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Asian Games 2023 Chess: Indian Men, Women's Teams Secures Silver Medals With Convincing Victories In Final Rounds

Two draws -- one against Iran and the other against China -- proved to be the undoing for the Indian men and ultimately saw them finish behind the gold medal-winning Iran.

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Indian Chess Men's Team at Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou
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The Indian men's and women's chess teams won silver medals at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Saturday after posting easy wins in the ninth and final round. (Medal Tally | Full Coverage)

The top-seeded men, boasting of a strong all-Grandmaster line-up, including teenage stars D Gukesh, the Indian No.1, and R Praggnanandhaa, finished behind Iran. India finished on 15 match points (2 for a win, 1 for a draw), one behind the gold medallists Iran.

Two draws -- one against Iran and the other against China -- proved to be the undoing for the Indian men and ultimately saw them finish behind the gold medal-winning Iran.

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In the ninth and final round, India beat the Philippines 3.5-0.5 but it was not enough as Iran routed South Korea 4-0 to finish on top.

Vidit Gujrathi, Arjun Erigaisi and P Harikrishna defeated their respective opponents while Praggnanandhaa was held to a draw by Paulo Bersamina.

In the women's section, GM D Harika, IM R Vaishali, IM Vantika Agrawal and WGM B Savitha Shri won their games easily to set up a 4-0 win over South Korea to finish with 15 match points.

A defeat to China in the fourth round hurt the team's chances as they fell behind and could not recover from that point.

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The top-seeded Chinese team won its last-round match against the UAE with a 4-0 margin to take the gold with 17 match points.

The Indian men finished their campaign with a 3.5-0.5 win against the Philippines.

Speaking about the team's performance, Praggnanandhaa said, "It went well overall. We have finished with a silver (medal). It could have gone better but considering everything, I think silver is not a bad result. Our opponents were quite good, they were all quite strong teams and we felt we played well but one or two games didn't quite go our way."

Asked if the formidable Indian team had under performed, given that in many matches they out-rated their opponents on every board, the 18-year-old GM said, "It's still tough to actually win those games. Between opponents rated 2620 or something and over 2700, there's not a huge amount of difference."

About the increased expectations after reaching the Chess World Cup final earlier this year, he said he did not feel that right now.

"I don't really feel that right now. Maybe in the future but for now, I'm just enjoying the game and playing well."

Gujrathi, on his part, said, "I'm glad we won a silver medal. Especially because chess is generally not in the Asian Games, and it's happening after 13 years, and we've been able to bring a medal home to our country. So I'm very proud of that."

Coach N Srinath said he was pleased the team was able to win a silver medal but felt "we could have done a bit better."

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"It's mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's quite pleasing to win a silver medal, which was not at all easy. I thought (many of) the teams were quite underrated actually. For instance, we have the Olympiad champions Uzbekistan who couldn't win this tournament, and finished with the bronze medal."

He felt Gukesh's loss to Parham Maghsoudloo in the match against Iran was the one that made the difference.

"I think there were two matches which were quite close. The first one was the match against Iran itself. We were 2-1 up towards the end. And there was this endgame between Parham against Gukesh, which was really close to a draw. But Gukesh was under pressure for most of that game and it's understandable that Parham scored on that one.

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"And then the next game against China, where Gukesh was completely better. It was a massive advantage right after the opening and if we had scored that one, I think we would have got the gold. So we had these chances, but it just didn't fall our way. These little things took the gold away from us," he added.

The fancied Indians (Vidit Gujrathi and Arjun Erigaisi among the men and K Humpy and D Harika in the women's event) failed to win a medal in the individual event.

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