Top stars for Maharashtra Chess League

Pune: The Maharshtra Chess League, which kicked off last year, is all set to enter its second season here tomorrow with six teams competing for the top prize of Rs three lakh.

The five-day tournament, which has attracted four super Grand Masters (Rating above 2600) from all over India in a total tally of nine, is being conducted at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana.

The teams in fray are defending champions Pune Attackers, Jalgaon Battlers, Ahmednagar Checkers, Mumbai Movers, Thane Combatants and a new team, Pune True Masters who have replaced Nagpur Royals.

Among the GMs to take part are Abhijit Kunte, Abhijeet Gupta, Parimarjan Negi, B Adhiban, V Vishnu Prasanna and M R Lalith Babu and Vidit Gujarathi.

Most of the players, who went through the auction process held about a week ago in the presence of the five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, have arrived in Pune.

The event, sponsored by Johnson Tiles, is to be played under faster time controls where each team will field six players while it is mandatory for each team to field three Maharashtra players, two women players and one untitled players for every round.

Former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta, who is leading Thane Combatants, said he has armed himself with off-beat lines in the openings to surprise and shock his opponents.

"For a rapid event like MCL, I will rely more on sharp play," said Gupta, who is making his debut this season.

For Ahmednagar Checkers, Tejas Bakre has a different gameplan.

"It is a rapid format and one shouldn`t lose too much time in the openings,? said Bakre who is reputed for his rapid prowess.

As for Mumbai Movers` star strategist and one-time youngest GM in the world, Parimarjan Negi, physical as well as mental fitness is a must.

"MCL is based on a fast paced and exciting format, so I have worked on unpredictable short time controls," said Negi ahead of the competition.

While the winning team would get Rs 3 lakh, Rs 50,000 more than what was on offer last year, the runners-up would be richer by Rs 1.75 lakh.

Besides these overall prizes, the best male and female players would get Rs 10,000 each and the winning team of every league match is set to earn Rs 5,000.

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