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Chess is more popular in India than almost anywhere on Earth, and it takes phenomenal talent to represent the country on the world stage.

At the recent Chess Olympiad in Chennai, the host country fielded no fewer than three teams. The strongest of those squads, with an average age of 19, came within a whisker of finishing ahead of teams from a record number of 186 national federations.

One of India’s biggest stars is 16-year-old Dommaraju Gukesh, who is the third youngest in history to become a grandmaster. He won eight straight games in Chennai before a blunder cost him and the Indian team a chance at first place.

Back in Canada, the tournament was being avidly watched by someone who knows the pressures of international competition. Ganesan Sekhar of Winnipeg played on India’s Olympiad team in 1964.

“I was really impressed with the aggressive style of chess that is being played these days,” said Sekhar. “It’s fascinating to see how these young people play.”

Sekhar finished in the top 10 of the Indian national championship to qualify for his Olympiad shot, and at 23 he was the youngest on the team.

He immigrated to Canada in 1968 and made his mark in Manitoba chess, while also developing expertise in the game of bridge.

Dommaraju Gukesh v. Nordirbek Abdusattorov, Chennai, 2022

Handout

In time trouble, White just played 72.Nf3. Black has a simple move to win. What is it?

Black wins after 72. … Qb7+, picking up a piece.