The Indian challenge in the Apollo Engineering College Commonwealth chess championship will be led by former National champion B. Adhiban and the young Grandmaster brigade comprising Lalith Babu, S.P. Sethuraman and M.R. Venkatesh.

The event will be inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Minister for Sports N.R. Sivapathy at the Nehru Indoor Stadium on Thursday. The first two rounds will be held on Friday. The championship will be played over 11 rounds with double rounds on two days.

All eyes will be on G. Akash, a school student who broke Viswanathan Anand’s 26-year-old record by winning the Indian championship at 16 years and 13 days at Kolkata last month. His first event since the National Premier success is likely to attract huge attention in his home city.

There are 25 main prizes, with the first prize being Rs. 1.5 lakh from a total prizemoney of Rs. 10 lakh.

Chennai, which has the most FIDE-rated players in any Commonwealth city, is staging this contest for the first time and it is the home players who will benefit the most. Visiting players find the going tough here as the domestic playing strength is always high and players are often rated lower than their actual strength.

Top women contenders

Tania Sachdev and S. Vijayalakshmi, who have a 2400 Elo rating, and Mary Ann Gomes, who retained the National women’s premier title at Jalgaon earlier this month, are the top three in the women’s section.

Of the 28 IMs, more than half are from India and have the ability to surprise the 17 GMs and make GM norms. The organisers have provided the right mix of available overseas players and GMs which should facilitate norm-making in this event.

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