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Ganguly is top seed

Calcutta: Surya Sekhar Ganguly is the top seed in the SREI International Grandmaster Open chess tournament, organised by the Dibyendu Barua Chess Academy and Allsport Foundation. The Fide recognised meet will be inaugurated on Thursday and will run till December 14 at the Town Hall here.

“I normally don’t play in Calcutta, or for that matter in India very often now. But when Dibyendu kaku (Barua) asked me to take part, I had to play... It will add to the value of this event. Also, I will be playing in Gibraltar next and this can act as a good practice tournament,” said Ganguly, who was till recently part of Viswanathan Anand’s seconds team.

The tournament will also see Russian GM Ivan Popov, who will be the second seed. This is Popov’s first visit to India and he said he was overwhelmed with the interest that Indians have in the game.

The meet is the last event of the International Grand Masters Series Chennai-Hyderabad-Calcutta, held under the aegis of the All India Chess Federation to celebrate the World Chess Championship match between Anand and Magnus Carlsen.

“This tournament will provide a platform for upcoming Indian players to achieve IM and GM norms,” said Barua. Among the Indians who will benefit most is WGM Mary Ann Gomes who has completed her IM norm and can play to achieve GM norm.

Among the 24 GMs who will be seen in action are Deep Sengupta, Tejas Bakre, Neelotpal Das, S. Kidambi, Pravin Thipsay, Levan Pantsulaja (Georgia) and Niaz Murshed (Bangladesh).

The tournament will also see 25 IMs and 2 WGMs vying for honours. Indians with Elo ratings of 1900+ will only be allowed to play. The winner stands to gain Rs 2 lakh and a trophy, while the runner-up will be richer by Rs 1.5 lakh.

The meet will be inaugurated on Thursday by state sports minister Madan Mitra and Jose Ramirez Barreto. Sourav Ganguly will give away the prizes on December 14.