Magnus Carlsen is in town. Viswanathan Anand is back home. An international Women’s Grandmasters (WGM) tournament opens on Wednesday. Chess is very much in the air in the city a couple of days before the World championship is inaugurated.

The organisers of the World title match want to ensure that it is going to be festival of chess in a city that is the chess capital of the country in more ways than one. They could not have thought of a better way than providing a platform for India’s budding female players.

Yes, women are free to compete with men in chess, but there is no harm in giving them an exclusive stage once in a while.

“Having a WGM tournament is a great idea,” says S. Vijayalakshmi, India’s first WGM. “I wish if we had a tournament or two like this before. This, I believe, is the first ever WGM open event in India. So I did not want to miss out on it at any cost.”

She is seeded fourth in the tournament, to be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Georgia’s Sopiko Guramishvili is the top seed, followed by Kolkata’s Mary Ann Gomes and Nino Batsiashvili, also of Georgia. There are also WGMs from countries like Russia and Uzbekistan.

“It will be a good opportunity for the Indian norm hunters,” says V. Hariharan, organising secretary of the World championship. “We wanted to have the women’s event along with the big match, and we are glad that we have got more than 100 entries.”

The WGM tournament is not the only major event that will be conducted along with the World title match.

There is an international men’s GM tournament that kicks off on November 15. There is also the National under-9 tournament that begins on Wednesday.

“Then we have a three-day event featuring players from all the 32 districts of Tamil Nadu,” Hariharan says.

“We wanted to have players from all over the State to come over to Chennai to experience the atmosphere of the World championship.

There will also be chess-puzzle contests.”

He assures that things are well in place for the kick-off of the Anand-Carlsen match at the Hyatt Regency.

“We are happy that lot more people have started talking about chess,” he says.

“There are also plans by the Tamil Nadu School Education Department to bring in school children for the World championship.”