India is a medal contender in World Youth Chess: Gokhale

A youthful contingent of Indian players are participating in the World Youth Chess Tournament in Russia that begins today

The Indian seniors came quite close to a medal finish in the recently held Chess Olympiad at Baku, Azerbaijan. But they missed a podium finish despite being on the top during the course of the tournament.

This time, the junior string of Indian players are ready to prove their mettle in the Fide World Youth Chess Tournament at Khanty-Mansiysk, from Tuesday. The team of eight boys and ten girls is led by Pune-based Fide trainer Jayant Gokhale.

Coach Jayant Gokhale with Akanksha Hagawane

Coach Jayant Gokhale with Akanksha Hagawane

Talking about the team’s chances, Gokhale said that most of the players were in good form. “If this had been an Asian tournament, we would have put up a good show. But at the world level, there will be strong competition. Still, we have hopes for a medal,” said Gokhale.

“Though the American team won a gold medal in the Olympiad, they don’t have a strong team in the juniors. The fierce competition will be from China,” he added.

Gokhale has trained several international players including Aakanksha Hagawane. She recently emerged champion in the national under-17 chess championship held at Kolkata. This was her third national on a trot. She also has Commonwealth Championship gold in the under-16 event in her kitty. The coach said that he has high hopes from his ward who will be competing in the girls’ under-16 category.

Another strong contender will be Tamil Nadu player RB Vaishali. Gold medals in the u-14 World Youth Championship and the Asian Youth Championship, and a silver in the Commonwealth Chess Championship (in the u-20 category) are Vaishali’s notable achievements in 2015. She is currently ranked world number 15 in the under-18 age group.

Others to look out for are last time gold medallist in World Youth, M Mahalakshmi (u-18) and bronze medallist Vantika Agrawal in the under-14 girls.

Amongst the boys, there are big expectations from Mitrabha Guha. The 15-year-old had won a gold medal in the Asian Youth Chess Championship in 2009, and a silver medal in 2011. He has already played chess tournaments in ten countries, beginning with the under-8 World Chess Championship at Vietnam when he was only six years old.

For the record, India had sent fifty players to participate in the World Youth Championships 2015 in Greece. They returned with a massive tally of eleven medals — five gold, three silver and three bronze.

Indian team: Boys (under-14): Neelash Saha, Bhavik Chudaman Bharambe, Vinodh Kanth Tarun, Iniyan Panneerselvam. (Under-16): Mitrabha Guha, Kaumandur Srihari Raghunandan. (U-18) Rajdeep Sarkar, Nandigani Krishna Teja.

Girls (under 14): Salonika Saina, Vantika Agrawal, Nutakki Priyanka, Anwesha Mishra, Aashna Dinesh Makhija. (Under-16): Aakanksha Hagawane, Kalidhass Priyanka. (Under-18): Vittanala Toshali, Mugunda Kumar Mahalakshmi, Ramesh Babu Vaishali.

ashish.phadnis@goldensparrow.com

Originally published on The Golden Sparrow

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