The junior star, IM R Vaishali starred for India as they won all their three matches of the 2021 Online Chess Olympiad today. India registered comfortable victories over Shenzhen China and Azerbaijan before almost stumbling to Belarus to move to the top of the standings in Pool B.
India started their day with a clinical 5-1 win over Shenzhen China. While the women star Koneru Humpy lost her game against Zhao Xue with the black pieces, Pentala Harikrishna, Adhiban Baskaran, Bhakti Kulkarni, Nihal Sarin and Vaishali registered comfortable victories to ensure that India faced no hiccups at the start of the day.
Playing their second group match against Azerbaijan - one of the strongest teams in Pool B, India fielded both their top players - Viswanathan Anand and Vidit Gujarathi in boards 1 and 2, respectively.
While Anand drew his game with Teimour Radjabov with the white pieces, Vidit never looked in any sort of trouble as he too comfortably held Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to a draw with black. With Harika Dronavalli and Vaishali drawing their respective games, the young Nihal Sarin and veteran Koneru Humpy struck back.
If Nihal had an easy win - his second of the day, Koneru Humpy came roaring back in after the disappointment of the previous match to help India win 4-2 in what was expected to be their toughest match during the round-robin stages.
The final match of the day against Belarus was expected to be an easy one for India. Only that, it was not.
Though Viswanathan Anand started off with a fantastic win in just 23 moves with the black pieces and Bhakti Kulkarni too registered a win, the rest faltered to take the match down the wire.
While Vidit Gujarathi and Tania Sachdev drew their respective matches, a surprise loss for the young R Praggnanandhha with white on the junior board meant that a lot rode on his sister, R Vaishali's game.
The 20-year-old Vaishali responded tremendously well under pressure as she managed to hold on to a lost game, to ensure that India ended the day 2 of the 2021 Online Chess Olympiad without any losses.