India created history on Sunday by winning gold at the Chess Olympiad after the controversial finish in the finals against Russia. In the final round, two players from the Indian side were declared to have lost after the internet got disconnected.
Team India lodged an official appeal against the result, FIDE said the issue was under investigation. After about an hour of the result, the world chess body announced that FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich had decided to give gold medals to both teams. This was the first time FIDE organised the Chess Olympiad online.
Not only internet disconnectivity, but the Indian players also had to face frequent power outages during the tournament, while they were playing from their homes. Even the chess maestro Viswanathan Anand had to face power woes while he was playing board in the Olympiad. Every day in Anand's locality in Chennai, a schedule powercut takes place from 9 AM to 5 PM. At a press conference on Monday, Anand revealed that India’s non-playing captain Srinath Narayanan arranged for a remedy by speaking to Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) to provide electricity to his building despite scheduled maintenance in the Kottupuram locality in the Adyar zone. The power cut was scheduled to end around an hour into India’s tie with Armenia.
Anand praised Srinath's effort to help him and told the reporters apparently everyone in his building "were grateful to Srinath as there were no power outages in the area".
“I was worried because this tournament was already giving some difficulties to Vishy. I spoke to Dr Darez Ahamed, an IAS officer who is in London and asked him for help. He used to work in Tamil Nadu. He immediately got in touch with people in Chennai and I got a call from the executive engineer in Anand’s area. I gave him the match timings and requested him to ensure that no work would be going on during that time and in the next two days. They were more than happy to stop the renovation work and within an hour, power was restored," Srinath told the reporters at the Press COnference over a Zoom call.
The issue of power cuts had affected Indian players Koneru Humpy and Vidit Gujrathi during their group-stage tie with Mongolia. After the initial struggles in the Mongolia match where India went from 3-1 up to 3-3 after dropping two points due to power problems, they had a window of 3-4 days when the problems could be fixed.
Also read: Why the Chess Olympiad victory is an important milestone for India?