Indian players Vidit Gujrathi and Koneru Humpy have been offered hotel rooms in their respective cities to play the remaining matches of the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad after internet and power failures affected their performance against Mongolia in the sixth round. India on Sunday became the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals after they topped Top Division pool 'A' with a stunning 4-2 win over formidable China in the ninth and final preliminary round.
India now awaits the winner of the match between Greece and Armenia in the last eight on August 28. Though the Indian team, led by Gujrathi, has been on an unbeaten run, it was held to an unexpected 3-3 draw by lower-ranked Mongolia in the sixth round after Gujrathi and Humpy suffered setbacks due to internet and power supply problems.
To address the issue, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) has offered the duo to play the remaining matches from five-star hotels. "We have offered all possible help to all the players. We have told the players that steps to ensure uninterrupted power and internet will be taken and also they have been asked if they wanted to play from hotels," AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan told PTI.
"After the issues faced by Vidit and Humpy, arrangements have been made for them to play the remaining matches from five-star hotels (Taj hotels) in their cities. Also, the offer has been made to the other players but they have said they prefer to play from their homes." Humpy said she was reluctant to stay in a hotel given the current COVID-19 pandemic, while Gujrathi would inform his decision in a day or two. "Even today I faced two power cuts and my internet went down for a few minutes. I am trying to do everything which is in my control to fix it. I am trying to contact all the players and do my best and fix the issue and take precautions for the future matches," Gujrathi said.
Humpy, the world rapid champion, said she wasn't exactly comfortable with the idea of playing from a hotel amid the health crisis though power cut and internet issues cost her a game against Mongolia. "There was overnight rain the day prior to the Mongolia game and power was an issue. The Electricity department people did set right the problem," she said from Vijayawada.
"However, internet issues cropped up and I lost on time. I had back-up for power but the service provider box was losing power due to which net connection was lost. This can happen anywhere. "I am not particularly comfortable about staying in a hotel at this time of the coronavirus though arrangements have been made," she said from Vijayawada.
Asked about the quarterfinal match, the Nashik-based Gujrathi said he was happy with the way the team bounced back to defeat China and expects a close contest in the quarterfinal. "To come back so strongly after the power cuts and internet issue in the Mongolia match and defeating China is never easy. Defeating them 4-2 was the highlight of the day," he said.
"I think we are going to face the winner of the match between Greece and Armenia. Armenia is favourite on paper, they are strong, they are very well rounded. It will be a very close match. "I am very happy with the way my teammates have performed and they are doing a great job. I am sure it will be a very exciting match and a close contest," he signed off.