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Chess

Arjun Erigaisi upbeat about India's chances in Chess Olympiad

Grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi, who has seen his stock rise in the past few months, is upbeat about India's chances in the upcoming chess Olympiad.

Arjun Erigaisi Chess
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Arjun Erigaisi (Source: All India Chess Federation)

By

PTI

Updated: 6 Jun 2022 12:26 PM GMT

Grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi, who has seen his stock rise in the past few months, is upbeat about India's chances in the upcoming chess Olympiad. The 18-year-old chess player from Telangana has won a handful of tournaments so far this year and has become the highest-rated Indian in the world blitz rankings at 13th.

The young GM, who aims to break the 2700 (Elo) barrier soon, believes the Indian teams are strong and could do well in the 44th Olympiad later this year. His current FIDE rating is 2681 in the Classical category and 2745 (in Blitz). Having won the Challengers section in the prestigious Tata Steel chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee (the Netherlands) earlier this year and earning the opportunity to compete in the Masters section in 2023, he has been getting better over time.

Erigaisi, however, feels he has not done anything specific, saying, "I don't think anything specific has changed in matches since 2021. I have been working the same way, and just that I am putting in more effort." "I think I have been playing a lot of tournaments and that is helping me improve my game also and the opening...earlier they used to be kind of a weakness but now that is an area where I do better," Erigaisi, who also won the Delhi Open and the national championship earlier this year, told PTI in an interaction.

He is expected to be one of the key members of the Indian team in the Olympiad, to be held at Mahabalipuram from July 28 to August 10. "I think we have pretty strong teams - both 'A' and 'B.' At the moment USA is the favourite with a rating average of 2756. We certainly have good chances to beat them. We just have to perform well and how we play during the tournament matters the most," Erigaisi, who will be part of the India 'A' squad in the Open event, said.

The Indian teams had a preparatory camp recently in the lead-up to the Olympiad under the watchful eyes of the legendary Viswanathan Anand and former world championship finalist Boris Gelfand, which Erigaisi said was very good and helped in team bonding. "Yes, the first camp was very intensive. We learnt a lot and we built a bond sitting there. It was good and we had a lot of fun. The second camp will be held separately for members of the 'A' and 'B' teams," he added.

"They (Anand and Gelfand) taught us how to conquer from better positions and offer more resistance and other stuff. And also not just the chess part but also they did mention a lot about psychology."

Specifically, he said Gelfand had touched upon how to convert better positions and offer more resistance. The Telangana player, whose immediate aim is to break the 2700 (Elo) barrier, said he wants to keep improving and "ultimately become the world champion."

Indian players like R Praggnanandhaa, who has beaten world No.1 Magnus Carlsen twice this year, D Gukesh and himself have been doing well this year and Erigaisi said they need to keep improving constantly to challenge the best in the game.

"Since 2021, Gukesh and myself have improved a lot. So we need to continue the same so that we will be able to challenge the best," he added.

On the areas in which there was room for improvement for him, he said, "I think at the moment I am more of a complete player and I don't have any specific weakness. But I should get my game higher just as a player in general with all the aspects of the game."

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