Giving a further fillip to the game of kings and queens among the country’s youth, Indian future chess stars won five medals at the World Championships which was broken into two events. Akanksha Hagawane participated in the under-16 category and ended up with a gold in the World Youth Championship, held in Khanty Mansisyk, Russia. In the World Cadets which concluded quite recently in Georgia, Batumi, team India went home with one silver and three bronze medals.
Although India’s dominance was not like 2015 where we won as many as eleven medals, but there were five champions who completely steamrolled the field. Ever since R. Praggnanandhaa became the youngest IM in the world at the age of 10 years and 10 months, he has been in the news all over the world.
With Praggu almost sure of winning the gold till the eighth round, a disappointing loss to Nikhil Kumar hurt his chances. But the young boy stayed true to his billing of being the top seed in the under-12 section of the World Cadets 2016 by winning the final round against Andy Huang with a bold pawn sacrifice, thus winning the bronze medal. Nikhil Kumar and Andrew Hong, both from USA, won the gold and silver respectively. Nihal Sarin missed out on a podium finish but finished fourth with a score of 8.5/11.
Mrudul Dehankar is the nation’s top player in her category and the Nagpur-born girl did not disappoint by winning the under-12 girls silver medal by scoring 9.0/11. She has been the Maharashtra State Champion multiple times, and the other crown jewels are silver in the U-9 Nationals, 2013, 2014; silver in Asian Youth in the U-10 in Uzbekistan.
Divya Deshmukh went down to Mrudul in the penultimate round but came back strongly to beat a higher-ranked opponent, Kaiyu Ning from China, on her way to winning the bronze medal.
V.Pranav finished with a bronze medal after four consecutive victories in the last four rounds. His score of 8.5/11 was enough to secure a medal for India behind Ilya Makoveev from Russia and Nguyen Quoc Hy from Vietnam in the under-10 boys section.
India earned two medals in the World Junior Open a couple of months back after PV Nandhidhaa and SL Narayanan won the silver medal and bronze medal respectively.