Grandmaster B Adhiban will spearhead the Indian challenge in the Abu Dhabi Masters Chess tournament that gets underway here.
Starting as the third seed, Adhiban will take on Grandmaster Alexander Raetsky from Russia in what is expected to be a keenly contested game. The Indian, who is training his sights to enter the 2700 rating club, will start with white pieces in the opener.
Besides Adhiban, Grandmaster and Commonwealth Champion Abhijeet Gupta will be the other Indian star in the fray and will start his campaign against compatriot Grandmaster R R Laxman.
It will be a cautious start for the highest ranked Indian in the fray as the last outing between the two had seen Laxman turning the tables on his fancied rival.
Amongst the strongest opens in the continent, the Masters this year has 136 participants and 40 of these are Grandmasters.
To add to this there will be 38 International Masters and seven Woman Grandmasters whol will be fighting it out for over USD 35000 with USD13000 reserved for the winner.
Not surprisingly, India has the biggest contingent participating with 55 players registered for the event. There are players from 32 countries in all, and the second biggest registration of 11 players comes from Russia.
The hosts UAE has seven participants in all and that is mainly because of a minimum rating limit of 2100 ELO applied to participants.
The most awaited contest of the opening round from the Indian perspective will be on the top board where newly crowned Commonwealth Women’s champion Tania Sachdev will meet top seed and rating favourite Dmitry Andreikin of Russia. It may be recalled that Tania had held Andreikin to a draw in their last encounter at Reykjavik earlier this year.
There are hordes of strong players in the event apart from Andreikin. Wang Hao of China is the other player of 2700 rating club in the fray while Vladimir Fedoseev of Russia and Ukrainian duo of Alexander Areshchenko and Zahar Efimenko are other big names of the game.
There are many Indian GMs also in the fray who will be looking forward to a good outing. Fast improving M R Lalith Babu, the wily Deep Sengupta, G N Gopal, Vaibhav Suri, Vishnu Prasanna and Swapnil Dhopade have all got in them to beat the best on their day.
Expectations are also from Aryan Chopra, the young International Master from New Delhi who has already got two Grandmaster norms to his credit. Chopra needs one more norm to complete requirements of the Grandmaster title.