Indian Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran will lead a strong field 114 players, including 18 Grandmasters, from 15 nations in the third Kolkata Open Grandmaster Chess Tournament that boasts of being the strongest meet in Asia on account of the average rating of the participants.
The FIDE accredited meet organized by Alekhine Chess Club sets off Monday with 62 titled players and 30 foreign participants from Armenia, Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Iran, Luxemborg, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and Russia among others.
Sasikiran, India's No.2 after Viswanathan Anand, with a world ranking of 39, has been given the top billing in the tournament. This is the first time the GM with 2677 points will be playing here after 2000.
Alekhine Chess Club secretary Soumen Majumdar said: "A total of 114 players from 15 countries have confirmed their entries. These include 18 GMs, 30 IMs, one WGM and five WIMs. The tournament is the second strongest Open in Asia after the Dubai meet and the strongest in Asia by the average rating of the players."
He announced that the total prize money of the tournament is Rs.900,000, with the first prize winner getting Rs.200,000 and the second Rs.160,000. The third spot holder will get Rs.120,000 and the fourth Rs.100,000.
The second highest ranked woman player in the world, Koneru Humpy, too has confirmed her participation. Apart from the Indian super grandmasters, Armenian Smbut Lputian, the current Olympiad gold medallist would be competing in the meet. Alberto David, the first player to participate from Luxembourg, and the world junior champion Adly Ahmed of Egypt are the other GMs worth watching. GM Viktor Laznicka of the Czech republic could well emerge as the dark horse of the meet, along with the young Egyptian.
International Masters Mohammad Lodi of Pakistan and Watu Kobese and Kenny Solomon from South Africa are the other contenders vying for the title.
Local GMs Sandipan Chanda, Dibyendu Barua and Neelotpal Das strengthen the Indian challenge. A notable omission from the meet is GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly, who is participating in the Australian Open.
Asked about the lack of other foreign stars, Majumdar said the timing of the tournament clashed with Russian, German and China Leagues and the Australian Open.
The tournament will be played in a 10-round Swiss League format and not the round robin league.