Adhiban tops a field of 16 Indian players who will compete for two spots in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour in a qualifier taking place from Friday May 7 to Monday May 10. Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin, Gukesh and Harika Dronavalli are among the other participants in the knockout event, with Tania Sachdev joining Srinath Narayanan for live commentary on all the action.
Three Indian players are among the 30 who have so far competed on the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour – Indian no. 2 Harikrishna and no. 3 Vidit, by invitation, and Praggnanandhaa after winning the Polgar Challenge, the first event on the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour.
Pragg will be back for the qualifier, for which he’s joined by Indian no. 4 Adhiban and most of the top rated Indian players and rising stars.
The qualifier is a knockout played on chess24, with the same format as the Champions Chess Tour, except that each match takes place over only one day. There are four 15+10 rapid games, with a playoff if a match ends 2:2. The playoff consists of two 5+3 blitz games followed, if needed, by Armageddon, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4, but a draw counts as a win for Black.
The knockout bracket looks as follows:
In Friday’s first round there’s a large rating gap in many of the ties, though since the lower-rated players are usually talented juniors they may well be underrated. The closest match on paper is 15-year-old Praggnanandhaa (2608) taking on 22-year-old two-time Indian Chess Champion Karthikeyan Murali (2606), while Harika Dronavalli (2515) will be hoping to put her knockout experience in Women’s World Championships to good use against another two-time Indian Champion, 21-year-old Aravindh Chithambaram (2641).
Top seed Adhiban (2660) outrates his 17-year-old first-round opponent Aronyak Ghosh by 220 points, but the international master was the surprise of the Vidit Chess Tour, beating Gupta, Harsha and Erigaisi before only losing the final in an Armageddon game against Gukesh.
In short, we’ve got a fascinating battle ahead, and how better to enjoy it than with live commentary from Tania Sachdev and chess24 India’s Srinath Narayanan, a former World Youth Chess Champion and the coach of one of the most promising participants, Nihal Sarin.
Tune into all the action live here on chess24 from 15:00 IST, which is 11:30 CEST.