India, Russia Named Joint Winners Of Chess Olympiad After Controversial Final

FIDE Upholds Indian Appeal After 2 Of Their Players Go Down On Time Due To Loss Of Internet Connection

India and Russia were declared joint gold-medal winners of the Chess Olympiad following a dramatic and controversial final on Sunday.

The Viswanathan Anand-led Indian team ran mighty Russia close in the final on Sunday. But after two of their players Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh were declared to have lost on time in final-round duels, apparently due to loss of internet connection, it seemed India had to be satisfied with silver medal.

Deshmukh had been in a winning position before the loss of internet connection.

The Indians lodged an appeal against the final result, forcing FIDE – the international chess federation – to conduct an inquiry.

After about an hour, FIDE announced that its president Arkady Dvorkovich had made a decision to award gold medals to both teams.

The first round of matches in the final resulted in a 3-3 deadlock. The two countries were on level terms in the second round, too, and the final looked set for an Armageddon finish before Sarin and Deshmukh lost on time.

This was the first time that FIDE organized the Olympiad in an online format, the COVID-19 global pandemic having left them with no other option.

The online format was fraught with the risk of some players losing internet connection. There were similar complaints of a server crash in India’s quarterfinal against Armenia too. On that occasion, Armenian players had lodged an appeal saying they had lost internet connection, but the organizers declared India winners.

India then outwitted Poland in the semifinal to qualify for the summit showdown with favourites Russia.

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