CHENNAI: India's run at the FIDE online Olympiad concluded with a loss to USA in the semifinals on Tuesday night. The defeat meant that India will settle for the bronze medal along with China who had lost to Russia in the other semifinal. "It was going excellently. We were driving smoothly --- and then we suddenly crashed into a tree. That's what it feels like," Viswanathan Anand , the Indian captain, told TOI on Wednesday evening.
India began by clinching the opening rubber on Tuesday before the USA turned it around in the second. "After our win in the first match, I wasn't particularly expecting trouble (in the second). I lost my match to Jeffery Xiong in the second round. I just played horribly and was a bit angry. But then, I thought let me see how my teammates are doing and realized no one was doing well barring Harika who won her match in that round. Then we went into the tiebreaks and our best efforts didn't pay off," rued Anand.
The five-time former world champion felt players crumbled when the going got tough. "Our players suffered from nerves. They would see their teammates struggle and would take unwanted risks. Having said that, I won't be harsh on them because we had our moments and did well to reach the semifinals," said Anand. When asked about the biggest difference between India's winning performance in the 2020 online Olympiad to this year --- the 51-year-old legend said, "The problem this year was that when we did well each one of us scored. But when we did badly --- everyone lost. Last year, when one person had a bad day the other would pull things back. But this year our cycles didn't coincide."
As far as his own performance goes, Anand was in supreme touch winning four and losing just one in the tournament. However, Anand conceded that he couldn't deliver when it mattered the most (in the second round against USA). "I was very happy with how my tournament went. Obviously, in the crucial match my level was way below what was required," said Anand.