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Mary Ann gunning for a first

Calcutta, Aug. 23: In 1996, a girl aged six was a participant at The Telegraph Schools’ Chess Championship. It was the first tournament of her career. She won the first two games, finished with four points from 11 rounds and didn’t win any prize.

But that didn’t deter her. Two years later she won the national girls’ under-9 title and went on to win the Asian under-10 gold. Today at 13, Mary Ann Gomes (Elo rating 2126), has a burning desire to win The Telegraph championship which gets underway on Sunday.

“Though I have won a number of championships, The Telegraph meet is special. I have never won it. I am determined to give a shot at the title this time,” said Mary Ann on Saturday. If she wins, Mary Ann will create history, as no girl has ever won the title. Mary Ann faces a tough task no doubt. Top seed Rahul Sangma (2282) is clearly the favourite. His rating is way above second seed Tejdeep Adabala (2157). Defending champion Joydeep Dutta (2150) is also a strong contender.

“I have prepared hard and am hoping to do well. I think Joydeep and Mary are my likely contenders,” said Rahul.

Most outstation players arrived in the city on Saturday. A contingent of eight from Bangladesh including Mafuzur Rahaman Shahin (2130), Minhazuddin Ahmed Sagar (2100) and Shamima Akter Liza (2048) arrived in the afternoon.

A record number of 24 Fide-rated players are playing. The list includes Rajib Dhar (2134) and Troilukya Nanda, qualifiers from Guwahati, Kiran Monisha Mohanty (2047) of Bhubaneswar and Ashish Kumar (1960) from Jamshedpur. Other rated players from the city are Sourav Bose (2129), Debayan Majumdar (2104), Soumya Thakurtha (2117). Debayan and Soumya were instrumental in winning the Best School Trophy for St James, with Saurav Chakraborty (1993) in the last two years.

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