Pune, June 10: The Maharshtra Chess League which kicked off last year is here to stay! Bigger and Better in terms of rating as well as reputations, the tournament has managed to attract four super Grandmasters (Rating above 2600) from all over India in a total tally of nine. The 2nd edition once again sponsored by Johnson tiles, moved by Amanora and UFO will be played at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana from 11th to 15th June. In fray are six teams starting with defending Champions Pune Attackers, Jalgaon Battlers, Ahmednagar Checkers, Mumbai Movers, Thane Combatants and a brand new team, Pune Tru Masters who replaced Nagpur Royals.
The presence of Grandmasters Abhijit Kunte, Abhijeet Gupta, Parimarjan Negi, B Adhiban, V Vishnu Prasanna and MR Lalith Babu and Vidit Gujarathi—the captains of the six teams in the fray—makes Maharashtra Chess League a treat to watch out for and here it needs mentioning that other than the Nationals, seldom does an Indian event witness such a galaxy of huge Indian top stars. As for the untitled players, they could well prove to be the ‘hidden gems’ who apart from an opportunity to rub shoulders with the best brains in the country also get a platform to probably shine brighter than the established stars.
Most of the players, who went through the auction process held about a week ago in the presence of the five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand, have arrived in Pune and are rearing to get into action. The event will be played under faster time controls where each team will field six players. It is mandatory for each team to field three Maharashtra players, two woman players and one un-titled players for every round.
Former World junior champion Abhijeet Gupta, who will be leading Thane Combatants, mentioned that he has armed himself with off-beat lines in the Openings to surprise and hopefully shock his opponents.
“For a rapid event like MCL, I will rely more on sharp-play ” said Gupta, who will be making his debut this season.
There is a substantial rise in the prize money with the winning team getting Rs 3 lakh, up from Rs 2.50 lakh given to the winners of the first edition. The runners-up team will be richer by Rs 1.75 lakh. Besides these overall prizes, ‘Best Male Player and ‘Best Woman Player’ will get R 10,000 each. Also, the winning team of every league match is set to earn Rs 5,000 for their effort. A total of 15 matches will be played over five days with the tournament being played in two sessions daily—from4 pm to 5 pm and 6 pm to 7 pm.