After a three-year break owing to Covid-related restrictions, the $60,000 Asian chess championship is back.
Traditionally, Chinese men and Indian women have done better. However, with the Chinese absent from this edition beginning on Wednesday at the Leela Ambience Convention Hotel, an Indian medal sweep is widely expected.
Should the Open section’s third seed Nodirbek Yakubboev (Uzbekistan) and the women’s second seed Nomin-Erdene Davaademberel (Mongolia) perform to their ratings, they should make the podium. But the strong Indian presence could make it very difficult for the challengers from nine other countries.
R. Praggnanandhaa, after making waves in the online events by beating World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen three times this year, is focussing on raising his standard. In the absence of the country’s top five players, this Chennai-teenager begins as the rating favourite, ahead of in-form S. L. Narayanan.
Winner in 2007, Tania Sachdev will be looking to regain the title in the absence of her higher-rated compatriots K. Humpy, D. Harika, R. Vaishali and B. Savitha Shri.
With four qualifying spots available in the Open section and two for women in the cash-rich World Cup, the competition in the nine round event is expected to be fierce.
There will be no dearth of quality of games with 31 Grandmasters and 39 International Masters in the Open section. Out of 93 players, there are 31 Grandmasters and 39 International Masters. With 56 players rated 2400 and above, there won’t be any easy pickings for even the top 11 players rated above 2600!
In the 50-player women’s section, the presence of seven International Masters and 14 Woman Grandmasters and 17 Woman International Masters reflects the strength and depth of the field.
Top-10 seeds (Indians unless stated):
Open: 1. R. Praggnanandhaa (2687), 2. S. L. Narayanan (2663), 3. Nodirbek Yakubboev (Uzb, 2663), 4. S. P. Sethuraman (2645), 5. Aryan Chopra (2629), 6. Aravindh Chithambaram (2625), 7. Murali Karthikeyan (2623), 8. Rinat Jumabayev (Kaz, 2626), 9. Abhijeet Gupta (2607), 10. B. Adhiban (2603).
Women: 1. Tania Sachdev (2406), 2. Nomin-Erdene Davaademberel (Mgl, 2404), 3. Vantika Agrawal (2396), 4. Padmini Rout (2390), 5. Bhakti Kulkarni (2376), 6. Eesha Karavade (2336), 7. Vo Thi Kim Phung (Vie, 2335), 8. Divya Deshmukh (2330), 9. Soumya Swaminathan (2326), 10. N. Priyanka (2336).
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