Abhijeet Gupta heads the seeding listChance for little-known players to come good
DINDIGUL: About 300 players, 13 rounds, 30 berths and a new host city. The 45th National `B' chess championship, which opens at the PSNA College of Engineering and Technology here on Monday, promises a lot.
The event's aim is of course to identify the 30 players who will play in the next National `A' championship, India's premier domestic event in the mind sport. But the National `B' is not merely a qualifying event; it is also a tournament in which little-known players could challenge the stronger ones, schoolkids could face veteran internationals and women could take on men. Few chess events attract so many different kinds of players as the National `B'.
"I feel there are many strong players in this National `B'," said Abhijeet Gupta, the teenager from Bhilwara who heads the seeding list, with an Elo rating of 2472. "The National `B' always has been a tough tournament; you cannot afford to take any player seriously. It's not just the highly-rated players who could give you trouble."
Including Abhijeet, there are 33 International Masters in the fray. Three Woman Grandmasters Swati Ghate, Aarthie Ramaswamy and Nisha Mohota are also playing. The talented youngster from Chennai, M.R. Venkatesh (2469) is the second seed, while D.P. Singh (2466) and Sundararajan Kidambi (2458) are seeded third and fourth respectively.
The defending champion Lanka Ravi who won his maiden title at the age of 43 at Ahmedabad last year is seeded 11th. Among the seasoned campaigners competing here, sixth seed Sriram Jha has a good record in National `B', though he has always struggled in National `A'.
Then, there are the young guns who pay scant respect to their older, stronger rivals. Players like 14-year-old S.P. Sethuraman, who is in good form having won the Tamil Nadu State championship at Kodaikanal recently, would be keen to make an impression here. "These young kids are getting better and better," said K. Ratnakaran, the ninth seed. "They are theoretically very sound."
This is of the course the biggest chess tournament ever for Dindigul. "We are happy to have an important event like National `B' here," said V. Ravichandran, the organising secretary.
The tournament, jointly sponsored by LIC and PSNA, carries a total prize fund of Rs. 1.5 lakhs, including the first prize of Rs. 30,000. The tourney concludes on June 20.