Pune: Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi will spearhead Indian challenge in World Junior Chess Championships which begins here on Monday.
After a formal inauguration ceremony at the Hyaat, the venue was abuzz with activities and the welcome note was a chessboard signed by none other than five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand who is also a brand ambassador for the championships.
Gujrathi will lead the Indian challenge in the Open and Padmini Rout in the girls' championship. They pose serious threats for the more fancied players in both championships to be held simultaneously.
To be played over 13-rounds, the championships will be played under FIDE's Swiss rules with a time control of 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, and then 30 for the remaining game with a 30 seconds increment after every move is played.
There will be participation of 51 countries and the squads are still arriving.
The home support gathers around Gujrathi who finished a creditable second runner's up in the same event last year at Kocaeli in Turkey. The Indian has been in the form of his life recently, winning the Lake Sevan Grandmasters tournament and then following it up with an inspired performance in the Abu Dhabi open in August.
While Gujrathi spent his time preparing for the world junior, the other fancied Indian Grandmaster Sahaj Grover participated in the Durban Open recently where he tied for the first place. The best performance in more than a year's time would have worked as a perfect confidence booster for Grover ahead of his second last World Junior Championship.
Padmini Rout will be the star attraction among Indian
girls in her favourite hunting ground. In the last two attempts in Pune, Padmini has bagged the best woman player award in the Maharashtra Chess league.
There is also a cash incentive for the top finishers with a total pool of Rs 600000 besides a berth for the champions in the next World Chess Cups respectively. In the unlikely event of a non-GM winning the gold, the award is direct escalation to the Grandmaster title.
Out of the 140 participants registered in open, a large number is from India and there will be quite a few norm hopefuls waiting to fill the ranks. A young player to watch out in the future is Nihal Sarin who hails from Kerala. The nine year old won the gold in under-10 category in the world youth chess championship at Durban just a week before.
The games will be played daily from 3pm IST and October 13 will be the lone rest day. The new world junior champions in open and girls' category will be known on October 19.