Delhi is set to host an elite six-player chess tournament for the AICF-AAI Cup which, in terms of the average playing strength of the contestants, will be the strongest seen in the country.
The second edition of the championship will be held at the AAI Club here from December 20 to 30 with a prize-money of Rs. 12 lakh.
Headed by Polish Grandmaster Radoslaw Wojtaszek, best known for being one of the four ‘seconds’ to assist Viswanathan Anand in his successful World title defences against Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand, the field includes Ukraine’s National champion Anton Korobov and former National champion of Russia, Evgeny Alekseev.
The three Indian challengers are former National champion K. Sasikiran, former World junior champion Abhijeet Gupta and the reigning Asian champion Parimarjan Negi, who remains the second youngest Grandmaster on the all-time list.
The format will be a double round-robin with the Grandmasters playing each other twice, once with white and black. The players’ average rating of 2675 makes it a Category 18 event, the strongest ever in India.
Last June, Fabiano Caruana won the first edition of the championship which was a Category 17 event. The Italian youngster has since broken into the top-10 of world rankings.
Present at the launch of the event on Thursday evening was Negi, who finished fifth in the inaugural edition. The youngster said he was looking forward to facing the strongest field of his career. “My recent results have not been that good. But I am keen to finish the year on a high. I had a good first half of the year but then things did not go as per my liking. So I am preparing well to meet the challenges of this very event,” said Negi, the player with the lowest rating in the field.
The Airport Authority of India chairman V.P. Agrawal pledged his continued support to chess and chess players. He said, “The AAI supports several chess players including World women’s chess semifinalist D. Harika, women’s National champion Mary Ann Gomes and former age-group world champion Padmini Rout.”
All India Chess Federation secretary B.S. Chauhan announced that the prize-money was being funded by the federation. “We will continue to look for avenues to provide our players with quality challenges at home.”
The players (with rating): Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland, 2734), Anton Korobov (Ukraine, 2702), Evgeny Alekseev (Russia, 2691), K. Sasikiran (2676), Abhijeet Gupta (2667) and Parimarjan Negi (2638).