Fujairah, UAE: Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta will spearhead the Indian challenge in the Fujairah International chess tournament that gets underway here. Currently ranked fourth in the country, Gupta is playing his first tournament after the Chess Olympiad where he bagged the silver medal on the fourth board playing for Team India.
The Indian has escalated himself to 2667 ELO rating points and the expectations are high despite the presence of a very strong field here. Gupta is not the lone Indian hopeful in the 50500 USD prize money tournament as multiple times national champion Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Sandipan Chanda have it in them to make the best on their day.
For the records, this will be amongst the strongest ever tournament in Asia with presence of over 20 players above 2600 rating in the fray. The top seed is going to be Baadur Jobava of Georgia who is a member of the top-50 club of the world along with Etienne Bacrot of France who starts as the second seed.
The presence of the likes of Alexander Moiseenko of Ukraine, Liem Le Quang of Vietnam, Chinese duo of Ni Hua and Li Chao certainly makes this a very special tournament which the chess buffs hope will become an annual affair like the Dubai International open. Abhijeet will have his task cut out. The Indian is likely to start as the eighth seed.
"This is probably the toughest open I am playing and the focus is on just to play well. The start is often important in strong events and I hope to get a decent one," said Gupta about his chances. Ganguly has been going through a rough patch recently and it's time to make amends for the regular member of World Champion Vishwanathan Anand's team. At the just concluded Spanish league, the Indian lost four games in all.
Sandipan finished as the joint winner in the Dubai Open earlier this year and is known to play solidly. The UAE turf might smile on him again given the fact that he takes his chances whenever needed. Tejas Bakre is the other Indian Grandmaster in the fray who would like to earn back some lost rating points. The list of GM norm hopefuls from India is long with Vishnu Prasanna, Debashish Das, S Satyapragyan, Ashwin Jayaram, Aditya Udeshi and V Saravanan in the hunt.
There will be nine rounds in all and the winner will take home USD 15000. It's a single-round-everyday routine and the matches will start in the evenings. There is also another open organised simultaneously for players rated below 2200 which is likely to attract more participants.