Anand to face Sadhwani in Isle of Man chess

The open tourney, which features some of the best chess players from 37 countries, begins on Saturday.

Back to business: Viswanathan Anand (left) will once again compete among elite players from around the world.   -  PTI

Viswanathan Anand will face compatriot Raunak Sadhwani in the first round of the Isle of Man International Chess tourney that begins on Saturday. After India’s indifferent run in Chess Olympiad, where the Indian men’s team failed to deliver a medal, Anand is back at what he does best — enthrall his huge fanbase in the elite company.

Sadhwani, a young teenager, is likely to get the experience of his life by playing against one of his idols in the best format of the game — the classical chess.

The chess.com Isle of Man International is touted as the world’s toughest open tournament. This time, however, the top four players on the current rating list are giving it a miss. The top two — Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Fabiano Caurana of United States — play the next World Championship contest in less than two weeks.

Impressive list of participants

The participation of the world’s 5-11 top-rated players make it a very impressive list; they include Levon Aronian of Armenia, Anish Giri of Holland, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. The American duo of Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura are two other reputed participants, albeit not the two highest rated.

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The tourney, which is to be played over nine days in a nine-round competition, offers excellent playing conditions as well as prize money. The top players here get participation fee, an undisclosed nuance in the chess world. The first prize is an astonishing GBP 50,000 — an amount unheard of in any open tournament in the world. The total prize fund exceeds GBP 120,000; the best woman player gets GBP 7,000 as her take-home prize.

Gujrathi, Praggnanandhaa in the fray

From India, there are 35 participants. Vidit Gujrathi is the second-highest rated Indian in the fray; IM norm seekers like Dushyant Sharma or Pranav Anand will try to make an impression against what will be the toughest opposition they have faced. The presence Nihal Sarin and R. Praggnanandhaa — both Grandmasters in their early teens — adds some more value; Grandmasters like Vaibhav Suri and Debashish Das would like to make an impression.

The tournament promises ample excitement for chess enthusiasts across the globe with the presence of 37 countries and a competition from among 73 Grandmasters.