Abu Dhabi: Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta will spearhead the Indian challenge in the Abu Dhabi Masters that starts in the Gulf Emirate here.
Struggling with some last round blues recently, Gupta will look forward to a successful stint in one of his favourite hunting ground the UAE.
The Indian had won the Al-Ain Classic here last December and has previously also won the Dubai International open.
Besides Gupta, there is a huge line-up of Indian Grandmasters in fray and topping the list is Surya Shekhar Ganguly, a member of the team of five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand.
Vidit Gujarathi is another Indian who can steal the limelight and recently won remarkably in the Lake Sevan Grandmasters tournament in Armenia.
The other Indian Grandmasters in fray are M R Lalith Babu, G N Gopal, Vaibhav Suri, Ankit Rajpara, Sahaj Grover and M Shyam Sundar.
This will be one of the strongest Abu Dhabi tournaments ever with participation of Wang Hao as the top seed. The Chinese, rated 2730 on FIDE list, is known as one of the strongest Asian player.
Yuriy Kryvoruchko of Ukraine is another member of the 2700 ELO rating club here apart from his compatriot Alexander Areshchenko.
The Indian participation is huge in the nine-round masters as well as in some other side events.
There are 34 Grandmasters vying for the top prize of USD 10,000 among 95 participants in the nine-round tournament to be played under FIDE`s Swiss rules.
The onus will be on Gupta after missing out on what one thought were easy pickings recently. After a commanding one point lead with two rounds to go in the Commonwealth Championship at Glasgow in July, the Indian spurned it losing the final round to compatriot Aravindh Chithambaram.
In the following Rethymno International open at Greece, Gupta again had a half point lead going in to the last round but fell prey to David Alberto of Italy and in his last tournament at Paleochora in Greece, he lost the penultimate round after being in joint lead.
Barring the debacles, Gupta still remains a safe bet given his growing knowledge in the game and is expected to give the favourites a run for their money here.