Rakesh Rao

Tania, Nisha Mohota and Kiran are participating

The strongest contender for the top prize is Le Quang Liem

NEW DELHI: The chances of an Indian winning the annual Parsvnath International Open chess tournament has never looked as slim as it does on the eve of the eighth edition of the premier event beginning here on Thursday.

The ongoing World team championship in Turkey and the soon-to-start Corus championship at Wijk aan Zee, Holland have kept some of the regular leading Indian names away.

Surya Shekhar Ganguly, G.N. Gopal, B. Adhiban, P. Hari Krishna and K. Sasikiran are away in Turkey, while S. Arun Prasad, the sixth member of the team, is expected to join the field only in the second round on Thursday.

GMs Parimarjan Negi, Abhijeet Gupta and WGM Soumya Swaminathan are joining Viswanathan Anand and Hari at Wijk aan Zee.

22 GMs taking part

This leaves Arun as the only Indian among the top 10 players here. In the 22-GM pack, the other Indian GMs are Dibyendu Barua, R.R. Laxman, Deepan Chakkravarthy and Pravin Thipsay. Among the 32 International Masters, Indians form the majority.

IM Tania Sachdev, WGM Nisha Mohota and Woman International Master Kiran Manisha Mohanty are the only leading Indian women in the fray.

On the brighter side, the large number of GMs has brightened the prospects of several aspirants making GM or IM norms. As per FIDE’s guidelines pertaining to norms, the number of rounds stands increased by one to 11.

Increased prize money

Commendably, even in these days of economic slowdown and slump in the real estate sector, sponsor Parvsnath Developers has increased the prize money by a lakh to Rs. 12.5 lakh.

On rating, the strongest contender for the top prize of Rs. 2.75 lakh is Vietnam’s Le Quang Liem, the man who won the Kolkata Open in September last year. Rated at 2647, he is currently ranked 93rd in the world and the only one over the 2600 mark in a field of 375 players. Second-seeded Slovenian Luka Lenin (2595) is close to breaking into the 2600-club, while Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, the third seeded Iranian and a regular in Indian tournaments in the past decade, has struggled for nearly five years to come close to his career-best rating of 2633 achieved in April 2005.

Leading players: 1. Le Quang Liem (Vie, 2647), 2. Luka Lenic (Slo, 2595), 3. Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (Iri, 2589), 4. Maxim Turov (Rus, 2584), 5. Dmitry Kryakvin (Rus, 2575), 6. Pavel Kotsur (Kaz, 2568), 7. S. Arun Prasad (Ind, 2567), 8. Ziaur Rahman (Ban, 2548), 9. Martyn Kravtsiv (Ukr, 2545), 10. Alexander Zubarev (Ukr, 2544).

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