The legendary Viswanathan Anand and women's top player Koneru Humpy on Monday termed India's maiden gold medal win in the Chess Olympiad as a "magical moment" which will spur the further growth of the sport in the country.
India and Russia were on Sunday declared joint winners of the 2020 Online Chess Olympiad after the final was marred by server malfunction. Russia were initially declared winners after two Indians -- Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh -- lost in the final after suffering a disconnection with the server.
India lodged a protest against the controversial decision which was reviewed.
For Anand, a five-time world champion and the country's first Grandmaster, it was his first Olympiad medal and he described it as a "magical moment".
"The tournament went like a dream for me. A special gold for me. A special moment for youngsters. Winning the gold is simply a magical moment," Anad told reporters during an online media interaction, along with all the other 11 members of the Indian team.
"I hope this will be the start of many things for India," Anand said of the country's first gold medal in the Chess Olympiad.
Indian men had previously won a bronze in the 2014 edition, which was the country's best finish before this gold.
"The Olympiad win is very special...A very special medal I will add to my collection," he added.
Praising the younger players in the team, he said they played a huge role in the victory, adding it proved the depth of Indian chess.
On the question of lack of government recognition for Indian chess players in the last few years, Anand said, "I hope this result will have a positive impact and they (government) will look at chess they did years ago.
"Several years ago, they had recognised that this is one of the sports where we do incredibly well. I hope we will once again start coming in for Arjuna and Dronacharya awards," he added.
Humpy, the world rapid champion, described the triumph as a golden moment for Indian chess and said great teamwork was key for the win.
"Really a special and golden moment for Indian chess. Talented youngsters like Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa, Vantika..did well. Great teamwork did it for us. We had an advantage of having a mixed team," she said.
She said having Anand in the team was a great motivation for everyone.
On playing online, she said, "I never had an idea of playing online chess. I am comfortable playing over the board. The pandemic has forced us to play online. It is a different experience. Slowly, getting used to it," she added.
Team captain Vidit Gujrathi said the victory was possible due to the great work by all players.
"All the players did a great job which brought us the gold medal. It was a great experience to work with Anand," he said.
Youngsters Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin, Divya Deshmukh and Vantika Agrwal said it was a matter of pride to be part of the Olympiad gold medal winning team and also to play alongside the likes of Anand, Humpy, P Harikrishna and D Harika.