Country's top players to take part in Indian chess league

A total of 10 teams will take part in the tournament which will also see the participation of over 25 Indian Grandmasters.

Chess-board

The tournament’s main vision is to get India's best players to play against each other in a team format.   -  Getty Images

India’s top chess players, including talented youngsters such as R. Praggnanandhaa, D. Gukesh, Nihal Sarin and national champion Aravindh Chithambaram will take part in the inaugural Sukooon Resorts Indian Chess.com League, to be played online from May 15-17.

The 10-team online round-robin competition has attracted 25 GMs. As per the tournament's regulations, each team includes a woman player and an under-16 talent. The time-control will be 10 minutes plus two-second increment per move. Two leading teams from the league stage will clash in the Superfinal.

From the prize-fund of Rs. one lakh, Rs. 35,000 goes to the winner, Rs. 20,000 to the runner-up besides hosts of cash prizes for most valuable players (MVPs) and clutch performers.

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GM Priyadarshan Kanappan, the league commissioner said, “The Sports League was something that I had been very familiar with as I lived in the US where you had leagues for all sports; so I always used to wonder if we could replicate that format in India, and that’s how this league idea happened.”

“The lockdown helped us in a big way, as chess players have no avenue to play in over the board events, so we were able to convince the top players to play in an online league format,” he added.

Praggnanandhaa and Chithambaram will turn out for Team Chess Gurukul to be captained by noted coach and Grandmaster R.B. Ramesh, while Gukesh, the world’s second youngest Grandmaster, will play for Five Fighters, which would also include the experienced GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly, promising young Leon Luke Mendonca, Vishnu Prasanna (Captain) and Soumya Swaminathan.

Karthikeyan Murali, Aditya Mittal and R. Vaishali will be the other members of Team Chess Gurukul.

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Sarin will be part of Superkids team to be captained by Narayanan Srinath and also includes GMs Arjun Erigaisi, Raunak Sadhwani, Srinath and Divya Deshmukh.

Indian No. 6 S.P. Sethuraman will also be seen in action for Chess Pathshala which includes Swapnil Deshpande (captain), Sankalp Gupta, Krishnater Kushager and Mrudul Dehankar.

The concept is similar to the ongoing FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup, with five players, necessarily including a woman and an Under-16 player forming a team.

“With no normal tournaments in the near future, online tournaments are picking up popularity among chess audiences and players. It is a nice concept and hope that the players and spectators enjoy the event,” Chess Gurukul captain Ramesh said.

The other teams in the fray are: Desi Boys captained by Vishal Sareen and including GMs Abhijeet Gupta, Vaibhav Suri and IM Tania Sachdev, United India; Chess Thulir captained by GM M Shyam Sundar and including GMs G.A. Stany and N.R. Visakh; Cheeky Cheetas and Undercover Agents.

The teams:

Chess Gurukul (average rating 2537): Aravindh Chithambaram, R. Praggnanandhaa, M. Karthikeyan Aditya Mittal, R. Vaishali and R. B. Ramesh (non-playing captain)

Superkids (2514): N. Srinath (captain), Nihal Sarin, Arjun Ergaisi, Raunak Sadhwani and Divya Deshmukh

Desi Boys (2498): Abhijeet Gupta, Vaibhav Suri, Debashis Das, Tania Sachdev, Raahil Mullick and Vishal Sareen (non-playing captain)

Five Fighters (2495): Vishnu Prasanna (captain), Surya Shekhar Ganguly, D. Gukesh, Luke Mendonca and Soumya Swaminathan

United India (2742): Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh (captain) Diptayan Ghosh, Harsha Bharathakoti, Prithu Gupta and Bhakti Kulkarni

Chess Thulir (2467): M. Shyam Sundar (captain), G. A. Stany, N. R. Visakh, L. R. Srihari and P. V. Nandhidhaa

Chess Gyaan (2459): M. R. Venkatesh (captain), Aryan Chopra, G. Akash, Aronyak Ghosh and Vantika Agarwal

Chess Pathshala (2447): Swapnil Dhopade (captain), S. P. Sethuraman, Sankalp Gupta, Krishnater Kushager and Mrudul Dehankar

Cheeky Cheetahs (2432): Abhimanyu Puranik, Raja Harshit, Rahul Srivatshav, Raja Rithvik, Aakanksha Hagawane and Atharva Godbole (non-playing captain)

Undercover Agents (2418): Padmini Rout (captain), Arjun Kalyan. Girish Kaushik, Koustav Chatterjee and Ajay Karthikeyan.

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