All set for the battle in Chennai Grand Masters Chess Championship to commence

Arjun Erigaisi (with microphone), Sjugirov Sanan, Pavel Eljanov, Alexandr Predke, Levon Aronian, Parham Maghsoodloo, D. Gukesh, and P. Harikrishna at the inauguration of the Chennai Grand Masters Chess Championship on Thursday.
| Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

The Chennai Grand Masters Chess Championship that gets underway on Friday provides three participants — Indians D. Gukesh and Arjun Erigaisi, and Parham Maghsoodloo (Iran) — the chance to improve their likelihood of qualifying for the 2024 Candidates tournament.

With six participants for the Candidates finalised and two slots left, both Gukesh and Arjun have the chance to qualify by topping the FIDE Circuit leaderboard.

Presently, Anish Giri is the leader with 84.3 points. Gukesh is third with 79.5, and Arjun fourth with 71.6.

“If Gukesh manages to finish first or joint-first, he surpasses him (Anish). And if Arjun finishes sole first, not joint-first, then he tops the leaderboard.

“So, from this event, if they finish at the top, they have a chance to finish at the top of the (FIDE Circuit) leaderboard, and that makes it highly likely that they could get a spot in the Candidates,” said ChessBase’s Sagar Shah, one of the tournament organisers, at the opening ceremony on Thursday.

This is India’s strongest classical super chess tournament with the average rating of 2711.

“I didn’t see this coming. After Grand Swiss, I thought my hopes of Candidates ended. But this like an unexpected opportunity for me. I’ll try not to take any Candidates pressure and just play freely,” said Arjun.

Maghsoodloo can qualify for the Candidates through the rating points.

The tournament, which features eight players, will have seven rounds of classical chess in the round-robin format.

First-round pairings: D. Gukesh vs. Levon Aronian (USA), Parham Maghsoodloo (Iri) vs. Pavel Eljanov (Ukr), Sanan Sjugirov (Rus) vs. Alexandr Predke (Srb), P. Harikrishna vs. Arjun Erigaisi.

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