Adhiban and Sasikiran lead the Indian challenge at the Gibraltar Chess Festival

GIBRALTAR: Great Masters B Adhiban & K Sasikiran will lead the Indian challenge in the category of teachers of the eighteenth century Gibraltar International Chess Festival It starts here on Tuesday.

Leading the field are the GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov from Azerbaijan & Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from France

Other top players include Hao Wang of China, Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), David Navara from the Czech Republic & GM Liem Le Quang from Vietnam.

A huge Indian contingent, comprising about 40 players, will be taking part in the tournament & the focus will be on gaining ELO rating points.

Among the men, apart from Adhiban & Sasikiran, young guns like D Gukesh, the country's youngest GM R Praggnanandhaa, Raunak Sadhwani, S L Narayanan & several others including Karthikeyan Murali, who finished second in last year's tournament, are in the fray.

Soumya Swaminathan, Padmini Rout, Divya Deshmukh, Nisha Mohota & Rakshitta Ravi will be the ones to watch out for among the Indian women in action.

The women's field is led by Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine, Russian Alexandra Kosteniuk, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iran), Zhongyi Tan & Lei Tingjie of China.

Adhiban, who finished 23rd in the Masters event last year in a formidable field, is looking forward to playing in the tournament with some of the big names.

He said Mamedyarov & Vachier-Lagrave would be the ones to beat.

The Chennai-based GM said the tournament offers the Indians a big opportunity to improve their ratings & gain norms.

His aim is to better the 2019 performance where he finished with 6.5 points & ended joint 23rd with compatriot Gukesh among others.

"It is here that I reached the 2600 ELO rating points mark. I want to perform well & gain some rating points," he said.

Adhiban said he was keen to start 2020 on a good note & the Gibraltar event provides him with just the right opportunity.

"I want to start the year on a good note. I have always enjoyed playing here & the field is strong & a good performance will help improve my ratings & give me a lot of confidence for the tournaments in future," he added.

The 10-round Masters event concludes on January 31.

The Gibraltar Chess Festival would see over 500 participants more than 50 countries in various categories (Masters, Challengers & Amateurs).

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