The Telegraph
Sunday , March 16 , 2014
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All eyes will be on Short

Nigel Short

Calcutta: It’s not everyday that the likes of Nigel Short or Mikheli Mchedlishvili come into this city to spin their magical web of chess moves to mesmerise the connoisseurs.

Chess buffs are in for a treat come Tuesday, as the sixth Kolkata Open Grandmasters Chess Tournament 2014, gets underway. The 10-day meet will see 30 Grandmasters, 23 International Masters and five Women Grandmasters take part.

Apart from Short and Mchedlishvili (from Georgia), Ukrainian Sergey Fedorchuk will be in the field.

Added to that is the local attraction in the form of GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly, who will obviously enjoy home support in the Rs 14 lakh prize money meet. The final round will be on March 27.

With an average rating of 2400 Elo points, the tournament can boast to be the strongest Open international GM meet in Asia. The Chennai GM International Chess Tournament, held in November 2013, was the closest with 2308 Elo points as an average.

According to the organisers, the Alekhine Chess Club, this meet will give Indian players, and those from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, the opportunity to earn GM and IM norms and also increase their rating points.

The Indian interest will revolve around GMs like Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, B Adhiban, G. N. Gopal and Deep Sengupta while from across the border veteran GM Enamul Hossain will be seen in action.

Other notable GMs who will come for the tournament are Spaniard Leven Aroshidze, Oliver Barbosa from the Philippines, Danish Henrik Danielsen and Turkish Kivanc Haznedaroglu.

For the British legend Short, this will be the second time he will play in this meet. He had taken part in 2009, along with Georgian Mchedlishvili. The 49-year-old Short’s association with India had been a happy one with the GM winning Commonwealth Chess Championships in Mumbai (2004 and 2006) and then in 2008 in Nagpur.

He has also coached Pendyala Harikrishna and Parimarjan Negi. Short was himself regarded as a prodigy and had become an IM at the age of 14, breaking Bobby Fischer’s record.

At 19, he became a GM, the youngest to reach that mark at that time.

While Ganguly and the other Indians sure to get home support, Short will undoubtedly be the biggest crowd-puller. The tournament is being supported by the West Bengal Sports Council and is recognised by Fide (the world chess federation).

The winner will take home Rs 4 lakh, while the runner-up will get a purse of Rs 2.75 lakh.

The organisers rued the fact that despite such high standards, the tournament failed to attract any sponsor. An aid of Rs 5 lakh has been promised by the state sports minister Madan Mitra.