Velammal Nexus clinch World school team title

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Velammal Nexus clinch World school team title
© Provided by The Times of India

CHENNAI: Velammal Nexus won the World School team chess championship beating Saco Oliveros of Peru in the final 3-2 in Dubai on Monday evening. Grandmasters — D Gukesh, R Praggnanandhaa and Leon Mendonca — along with International Master V Pranav and V Rindhiya were part of the Velammal team.

The final began well for Velammal. Gukesh got the team off to a good start defeating Zavale Reyes and his teammate Pranav swelled the lead to 2-0 after outsmarting Quill Flores. However, the Peru side hit back strongly. Rindhiya and Mendonca lost their respective encounters against Vasquez Varg and Rojas Salas respectively. With the scoreline reading 2-2, all eyes were on Praggu’s encounter against Bravo Mallco. Praggu had to dig deep before winning the contest with the black pieces in 87 moves. “My opponent (Bravo) was giving a tough fight. But right from the start — my position was strong and it remained so till the very end,” Praggu told TOI after the clash. Asked if he had seen the scoreboard in the final moments of the match, Praggu said, “No, I didn’t. My concentration was only on my board,” he said.

The initial phase of the tournament was held online where about 283 teams from 54 nations took part. Velammal were among the twelve teams from across the world to qualify for the over-the-board (OTB) segment which commenced on November 25. The OTB stage of the competition was held alongside the ongoing World championship clash between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi. In the OTB group stage, Velammal topped Group A. “It obviously means a lot to be representing your school and doing well in such a prestigious tournament. We were the favourites to win the title and it feels great to be able to do so. Barring my final game, I didn’t feel we were stretched during any of the previous encounters,” Praggu mentioned.

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