The strongest Indian presence, though without two-time champion Viswanathan Anand, promises some exciting times when the World Cup chess championship opens here on Tuesday.
For the first time, the field of 128 players includes 10 Indians in an event that offers a prize-fund of $1,600,000. Only Russia (28) has more participants.
Anand withdrew to concentrate on the FIDE Grand Swiss due to begin a few days after the World Cup. Although the World Cup offers two spots for the Candidates tournament (played to ascertain Magnus Carlsen’s challenger in the next World title match), Anand chose to chase the lone Candidates’ spot offered in the Grand Swiss league. It appears that Anand preferred the Swiss format to the knockout format of the World Cup.
Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, the last challenger, have decided to skip the event. Also missing from the line-up is Veselin Topalov.
World No. 3 and in-form Ding Liren leads the star parade. From India, P. Hari Krishna made the field based on rating while Vidit Gujrathi moved in from the list of reserves after some prominent withdrawals.
B. Adhiban made it due to the ACP wild card while M. Karthikeyan, S. P. Sethuraman, S. L. Narayanan and Abhijeet Gupta booked their berths following their performances in the 2019 Asian championship. Surya Shekhar Ganguly qualified from the 2018 Asian championship.
Aravindh Chitambaram made it by virtue of being the National champion while Nihal Sarin received the FIDE President’s wild card.
In the last edition in 2017, six Indians played and all exited before the fourth round.
From the first round to the semifinals, each match comprises two classical games, to be followed by rapid or blitz tie-break games, if needed. The final will be played over four classical games, followed by the tie-break games, if required.
The winner’s share is $110,000 and the runner-up gets $80,000. Even the first-round loser receives $6000.
First round pairings (involving Indians):
- P. Hari Krishna (2746) v Yuri Gonzalez Vidal (Cuba, 2552);
- Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2658) v Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia, 2664);
- M.Karthikeyan (2617) v Ernesto Inarkiev (Russia, 2693);
- Aravindh Chithambaram (2609) v Michael Adams (England, 2694);
- S. L. Narayanan (2611) v David Anton Guijarro (Spain, 2674);
- B. Adhiban (2639) v Eduardo Iturrizaga Bonelli (Venezuela, 2626);
- Vidit Gujrathi (2718) v Alan Pichot (Argentina, 2600);
- Abhijeet Gupta (2609) Anton Korobov (Ukraine, 2679);
- Nihal Sarin (2610) v Jorge Cori (Peru, 2676);
- S. P. Sethuraman (2624) v Tamir Nabaty (Israel, 2658)