Sasikiran top seed in Kolkata Open

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Kolkata, Mar 23 (UNI) The FIDE-recognised third Kolkata Open Grandmaster Chess tournament, organised by Alekhine Chess Club, kicks off tomorrow with a total of 114 players from 15 countries participating.

The meet has 62 titled players and 30 foreign participants from Armenia, Bangladesh, Czech republic, Egypt, Iran, Luxembourg, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa and Russia among others.

Krishnan Sasikiran, India's number two after Viswanathan Anand, with a world ranking of 39 has been given the top billing in the tournament.

Alekhine Chess Club Secretary Soumen Majumdar said ''A total of 114 players from 15 countries have confirmed their entries. These include 18 GMs, 30 IMs, 1 WGM and 5 WIMs. The tournament is the second strongest Open in Asia after the Dubai meet and the strongest in Asia by the average rating of the players.'' He also announced that the total prize money of the tournament, to be played in 10 rounds Swiss League format, is Rs 9,00,000, with the first prize winner getting Rs 2,00,000 and the second Rs 1,60,000.

The third spot holder will get Rs 1,20,000 and the fourth Rs 1,00,000.

The second highest ranked woman player in the world, Koneru Humpy also has confirmed her participation. Apart from the Indian super grandmasters, Armenian Smbut Lputian, the current Olympiad gold-medalist would be competing in the meet.

Alberto David, the first player to participate from Luxembourg and the world junior champion Adly Ahmed of Egypt are the other GMs, worth watching. GM Viktor Laznicka of Czech republic could well emerge as the dark horse of the meet, along with the young Egyptian.

International Masters Mohammad Lodi of Pakistan and Watu Kobese and Kenny Solomon from South Africa are the other contenders vying for the title.

Local lads and GM Sandipan Chanda, Dibyendu Barua and Neelotpal Das strengthen the local challenge. A notable omission from the meet is GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly, who is participating in the Australian Open.

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