Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta will start as the highest rated Indian in the strong Dubai International open chess tournament that gets underway on Tuesday.

A winner of this tournament in 2011, Gupta recently won the Al-Ain Classic in UAE and the country remains one of his favourite grounds. The Indian is ranked 12th in one of the strongest open tournaments in Asia.

Anton Korobov of Ukraine starts as the top seed. The semifinalist of the last world chess cup had also won the AICF-AAI cup in Delhi in December 2012 and remains a feared opponent.

Apart from Korobov, Vladimir Akopian of Armenia, French duo of Romain Edouarda and Andrei Istratescu, Romanian Constantin Lupulescu and Csaba Balogh of Hungary are other players above 2650 ELO rating in the tournament.

The tournament will be played under FIDE’s Swiss rules and there will be nine rounds in all. The total prize pool is $50,000 out of which the winner will take home $10,000.

As usual, the 16th edition of the Dubai open has attracted a variety of Indian players. There are 30 Indians in the fray in a list that boasts of 160 players currently but is likely to go up by the time the first round starts at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

There are as many as 40 Grandmasters in the fray apart from 22 International Masters, eight Woman Grandmasters and three Woman International Masters making the total number of titled players over 70.

Apart from Gupta, the Indian interest will revolve around Grandmasters M.R. Lalith Babu, Debashish Das, M. Shyam Sundar and Sahaj Grover. International Masters Deeptayan Ghosh, Swapnil Dhopade and Ashwin Jayaram will be looking forward to a performance which will take them closer to the Grandmaster title while the other Indians are all IM norm aspiarants.

The event will be followed by Asian Continental championship in Sharjah. For Gupta and other Indian GMs, it will be crucial to be in good shape for the real test that begins soon after the Dubai open.

“This tournament remains one of my favourite events across the world as the players are taken care off well and the playing conditions are excellent too,” said Gupta while gearing up to play the first round late on Tuesday.

“And it goes without saying that it is indeed one of the strongest open tournament in the continent, all this makes up for an exciting contest that I have always liked to be a part off,” he said.

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