Tata Steel Chess: Three-fold increase in prize money for Kolkata tourney

Top stars, including Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, will be in action in the second edition to be held at the iconic National Library later this month.

AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, GM Dibyendu Barua and Chanakya Chaudhary of Tata Steel at the unveiling of the trophy in Kolkata on Thursday. Photo: Y. B. Sarangi

The Tata Steel Chess India rapid and blitz event will see a three-fold increase in prize money and the best of stars in action in its second edition, to be held at the Bhasha Bhawan auditorium of the iconic National Library here from November 22 to 26.

The event, which has become of part of the high profile eight-leg USD 1.75 million Grand Chess Tour (GCT) — inspired by the legendary Gary Kasparov and launched in 2015 — will feature 10 Grandmasters, including eight of the top-15 in the world.

The field will have reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, Indian legend and defending blitz champion Viswanathan Anand, highest-rated Chinese Ding Liren, Russian-born Dutch player Anish Giri, leading Armenian Levon Aronian, American Wesley So, Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi, five-time USA champion and defending rapid champion Hikaru Nakamura and two wildcards in P. Harikrishna and Vidit Gujrathi.

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The Kolkata leg — offering a prize purse of USD 150,000 — will be the penultimate event before the GCT Finals, to be held in London from December 2. Carlsen and Liren have already qualified for the London leg, while several others, including Anand, will be in the race for the two remaining spots in the finals.

'Enhanced profile'

“The prize money is three times that of what we offered last year. It’s great to be part of the prestigious GCT, which is broadcast all over the world. The enhanced profile of the event where chess lovers get to see the top players play in front of them will promote the sport in our country,” said Chanakya Chaudhary, vice-president, Corporate Services, Tata Steel, at the launch of the event here on Thursday.

The knight-shaped trophy — crafted by sculptor Madhusudan Naskar — was also unveiled in the presence of GM Dibyendu Barua.

All India Chess Federation (AICF) secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan said it was a dream tournament. “We lacked in making top players play in India. It was an expensive affair. Good that we can see these champions perform here. This is the first time Carlsen and Anand will be under one roof in a tournament in India (leaving aside the World championship match),” said Chauhan.

Anand invited for pink-ball Test

Since the competition is coinciding with the first ever day-night Test at the Eden Gardens, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has invited Anand for the pink-ball match. According to organisers, efforts are on from the BCCI and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) to invite Anand and Carlsen to jointly ring the bell at the Eden to mark the start of a day’s play.