New Delhi: Delhi`s Parimarjan Negi and Abhijeet Gupta will spearhead the Indian challenge in the Parsvnath Commonwealth chess championship that gets under way in the national capital.
The event, being sponsored by the Parsvnath Developers and co-sponsored by the ONGC, will see over 20 Grandmasters in action in a field of around 300 players from more than 20 countries.
The event which part of the preparation for the Asian Games 2010, will also see Grandmasters from countries other than Commonwealth nations participating as approved by authorities to give excellent chances to Indian players.
To be held at the Clarks Inn Anand Vihar, the event will be the strongest ever Commonwealth chess championship.
With a total of Rs. 8 lakh prize money at stake, the main contenders for the title in the open category will be top seed Alexei Dreev of Russia and besides him there are four other players including Negi who have rating in excess of 2600 ELO points.
Negi, in fact, will be the cynosure of all eyes as he will be playing in Delhi after a gap of over one year. The second youngest Grandmaster ever in the world will have his task cut out and he starts as the rating favourite for the Commonwealth title.
After a brilliant show in the Asian continental championship where he won the bronze medal, Abhijeet is the other Indian who will be vying for top honours in a star-studded field.
The world junior champion in 2008, Abhijeet recently tied for the top spot in the Reykjavik open and the performance at Subic Bay in Philippines in the Asian continental was the perfect icing on the cake for the young Indian who hails from Bhilwara in Rajasthan but is now employed in Noida for the Bharat Petroleum.
Former world junior girls` champion D. Harika and former Asian champion Tania Sachdev will be hoping for medals in the women’s section and the former is a clear favourite for the crown.
There will be medals at stake in various age categories which will prompt a lot of tiny tots to bring out their best. While the major action will go on, on the top boards, the likes of IM norm holder Vaibhav Suri and up and coming Harshal Shahi have it in them to cause major upsets.