HYDERABAD: ONGC Cup International Grandmasters Open chess tournament will be organised by Chess Players Association of India at Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium (Yousufguda) here from February 25 to March 6, according to G. Kamala Vardhana Rao, VC & MD of Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh.

Rao informed that the event, with the biggest ever prize money of more than Rs. 6 lakhs at stake, will have SAAP as the next big sponsor after the title-sponsor ONGC. GMR Group, State Bank of Hyderabad and NMDC are the other sponsors. The ONGC Cup will be played on Swiss League of 10 rounds with the winner getting Rs. 2 lakhs, the second-placed Rs 1.5 lakhs and the third-placed Rs 1.2 lakhs. Cash prizes will be also given in various categories with the topper in the ELO grouping of 2000-2100 receiving Rs. 5000 as an incentive.

Strong field

The event features some of the familiar names in the chess circuit including Russia's Oleg Korneev, (who had the distinction of getting the better of even reputed players like former world champion Anatoly Karpov), Utut Adianto of Indonesia, Pavel Kotsur and Ibraev, both from Kazhaksthan, Zia-ur-Rehman, Niaz Morshad, both from Bangladesh and Mamundi of Zimbabwe. The big names of Indian chess who have confirmed participation include CPAI president and GM Dibyendu Barua, Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Sandeepan Chanda, R.B. Ramesh, Neelotpal Das, Pravin Thipsay and Tejas Bakre.

"Efforts are on to rope in Koneru Humpy and Pentyala Harikrishna, the big guns from the State, even though they are busy with their preparations for the World Championship," said Lanka Ravi, CEO of CPAI (Andhra Pradesh) and the brain behind the show. The event also features Swati Ghate, Nisho Mohota, Tania Sachddev and Dronavalli Harika in women's section with the spotlight on the youngest-GM norm contender Parimarjan Negi and reigning World under-10 champion Sahaj Grover.

Efforts to increase participation

As a token gesture to ensure greater participation from the State, the organisers had decided to reduce the fee by Rs. 1000 for the unrated players compared to the other competitors.

For the first time, an exclusive website www.ongccuphyd.in for the benefit of chess lovers and the players (the pairings will also be listed) will be launched. Ravi thanked the SAAP chairman M.S. Raj Thakur and Kamala Vardhana Rao for coming to the rescue of the CPAI in a big way. Sports Reporter

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