NEW DELHI: Two-time champion India will be looking for a hat-trick when the World Youth (under-16) chess Olympiad begins at Akhisar-Manisa, Turkey, on Friday.

The team comprising Aditya Udeshi, K. Priyadarshan, Girish Koushik, Debashis Das and Deepthamsh Reddy is seeded second behind Russia. Coached by K. Visweswaran, the team accompanied by International Master P.D.S. Girinath, faces an uphill task of successfully defending the title in this 10-round event. India was victorious in Singapore and Turkey in the two previous editions of the Olympiad.

Russia, with players an average rating of 2421 as against India’s 2339, appears the strongest in the field of 22 teams from 15 countries. Russia’s quartet of Ivan Bukanvshin (rated 2417), Daniil Dubov (2416), Vladimir Belous (2426) and Ilia Iljiushenok (2426) looks the most balanced combination. Azerbaijan’s International Master Nijat Abasov (2504) is highest rated player in the competition while Armenia’s Samvel Ter-Sahakyan (2504) is the only Grandmaster in the field.

The teams (as per seeding): 1. Russia, 2. India, 3. Armenia, 4. Azerbaijan, 5. Hungary, 6. Georgia, 7. Uzbekistan, 8. Turkey, 9. England, 10. Greece, 11. Turkey Red, 12 Turkey Girls White, 13. Sri Lanka, 14. Turkey White, 15. Turkey Girls Red, 16. South Africa ‘B’, 17. Turkmenistan, 18. New Zealand, 19. South Africa ‘A’, 20. Libya ‘A’, 21. Libya ‘B’, 22. Turkey Akhisar. — Special Correspondent

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