Entering its fourth year, the Kolkata Open Grandmaster chess tournament, to be played at the Gorky Sadan from September 1 to 10, will be the strongest ever Open in the continent.

An array of 35 GMs, 30 International Masters, two Women GMs, three Women IMs and 12 FMs in a total of 124 players from 18 countries have made this year’s edition a special one indeed. The strongest ever tag comes because of the number of participating GMs and also by the average rating of the participants (around 2250).

Speaking on the occasion, the president of the Alekhine Chess Club, the organiser of the 10-round Swiss league tournament, proudly said that for the first time in Asia three GMs with a rating of about 2700 have confirmed for an Open tournament.

“Even the strongest Open in the world, the Aeroflot Open, had only one player above 2700 rating. We could not find any instance of three players above 2700 Elo rating in an Open tournament (classical time control),” he said.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan with a rating of 2721 will be top seed. Nigel Short of England (2706) and Ni Hua of China (2701) are the other two prominent seeds of the tournament.

The highest-placed Indian was GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly (2639) at ninth place. There are 11 Indians in the top 35. The tournament offers a prize fund of Rs. 10 lakh with the winner set to gain Rs. 3 lakh and the runner-up Rs. 2 lakh.

Participants have come from Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, England, France, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Slovakia, Sweden, Russia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and host India.

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