Two experienced chess players from Kerala — International Master K. Ratnakaran and O.T. Anilkumar — were intrigued by the big rush in the lobby of Hyatt Regency on Wednesday.

They were at the hotel to watch the world chess championship. The flurry of activity in the lobby, they found out, was for the chess problem-solving contest, which is being organised on all match days of the world championship.

“Both of us decided to take part, and found it was not all that easy, but it surely is very useful for players,” said Ratnakaran, a former Asian junior bronze medallist.

“We took almost an hour and a half to solve the problem. I won the fifth place, while Anilkumar came in fourth. And we won Rs. 650 each, which only added to the great fun we had,” he said. There are many who want to take part in the challenge, according to C.G.S. Narayanan, who conducts the contest. “Several people return disappointed because we have to limit entry to 60 players every day,” he said.

“I am delighted to see so many enthusiasts turning up; chess puzzles are not as popular here as they are in many other countries. Events like this will definitely help to spread awareness,” he said.

Every day, at the contest, participants have to solve five problems, including ‘mate in two’ (checkmate the king in two moves from the given position) and ‘help mate’.

“These are not easy problems to solve and the participants are mostly chess players with experience of playing in tournaments,” said Mr. Narayanan, a veteran in composing chess puzzles.

“City-based International Masters Karthikeyan Murali and Ramnath Bhuvanesh have won the first prize more times than the others,” he said.

The contest begins at 4 p.m. and there are 10 prizes to be won every day.

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