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Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz Inaugurated In Kolkata
GM Koneru Humpy, getting ready for the young batch of Indian players. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Tata Steel Chess India Rapid & Blitz Inaugurated In Kolkata

VSaravanan
| 10 | Chess Event Coverage

The Tata Steel Chess India Rapid and Tata Steel Chess India Women's Rapid were inaugurated at a short evening ceremony in Kolkata, India. At its fourth edition, the iconic event with separate rapid and blitz sections and a total prize fund of $41,500 has introduced a new tournament exclusively for women this year, with an identical format and prize money. Both the open and women's sections also follow a pattern of pitting five top Indian players against five of the best players in the world.

The event continues on November 28 at 10:30 p.m. PT/November 30 at 07:30 CET.

How to watch the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid and Tata Steel India Chess Women's Rapid

You can keep up with all the details of the tournament on our live events platform by following separate links for open and women's sections.

The event is a brainchild of Tata Steel, part of the Tata Group, the largest Indian business conglomerate with a presence in more than 150 countries. Tata Steel is well known in India for its sponsorship and support of various sports over the years. The Kolkata event takes pride in being the Rapid & Blitz counterpart to the annual Tata Steel Chess Masters events in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.

The Tata Steel Chess India begins. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Noting that the whole event was conceived initially in 2018 as an attempt to see GM Viswanathan Anand in action in any form of chess in India, Jeet Banerjee of Gameplan, the sports event management company that conducts the event, reveals that Tata Steel has been buoyed by the consistent increase in popularity of the event in past years, one of the reasons for expanding the current event with an additional women's section.

Jeet Banerjee of GamePlan addressing the gathering, watched by (l-r) GM Viswanathan Anand, Chanakya Chaudhary of Tata Steel, and Jeroen Van Den Berg, Director of Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Kolkata is the most sports-frenzied city in the country, with great popularity for soccer and cricket. Tata Steel Chess India events have enjoyed great spectator support over the years as well. This time, the main events are being complimented with three side events in the mornings thus making it a chess festival: open events of rapid, blitz, and women's, with a total prize fund of $2,875 approximately, organized by GM Dibyendu Barua, a former employee of Tata Steel.

The evening featured the presentation of players from both the open and women's sections, a short chat with the participants and organizers on stage, drawing of lots for the rapid event, and a ceremonial cake-cutting by Anand, the brand ambassador of the event, in front of a niche chess audience of Kolkata and media. It was held at the luxurious Taj Bengal of the Indian Hotels Company, again part of the Tata Group where all the players have been lodged for the event.

Beautiful ambiance at the drawing of lots ceremony. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Anand highlighted the importance of the event where a separate tournament for women has been introduced by the organization for the first time at any such global event with an identical prize fund in the 'Year of the Woman in Chess' by FIDE.

FIDE Deputy President GM Viswanathan Anand, the perennial Indian superstar. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Open

Another unique feature of the event is the coincidental "experience vs. youth" thread in both sections, as pointed out by Anand and GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi. In the open section, GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Wesley So of the U.S. are solid favorites among the global chess stars, while GM Arjun Erigaisi, GM Gukesh D, and GM Nihal Sarin form the young challengers' brigade.

GM Wesley So in a light moment, with GM Viswanathan Anand and GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov in the background. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Noting the presence of another rising young star in GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan, Anand noted the challenge posed by the youngsters and the pattern of having the same sub-thread among the Indian participants too. Echoing the viewpoint, Vidit noted that but for the last-minute inclusion of GM S P Sethuraman he would have been the oldest participant among the Indians in the rapid section.

GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu has been conferred with the prestigious Arjuna award by the government of India, annually awarded to prominent sportspersons of the country. Since the award ceremony clashes with the rapid part of the Tata Steel Chess India event, Sethuraman is his last-minute replacement. Curiously, Sethuraman's wedding has been scheduled for the fourth of December, 2022, making this event his final bachelor outing. Commenting on the circumstances, a grinning Sethu quipped: "... I am hoping for a good tournament here so that I can marry peacefully!"

GM S P Sethuraman: recipe for a peaceful marriage! Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.


Round 1 Open Pairings

Bo. No. Rtg Fed Name Result Name  Fed  Rtg  No. 
1 1 2616 Nihal Sarin - Nakamura Hikaru 2789 10
2 2 2676 Abdusattorov Nodirbek - Erigaisi Arjun 2628 9
3 3 2662 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi - Maghsoodloo Parham 2656 8
4 4 2632 Gukesh D - Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2747 7
5 5 2545 Sethuraman S.P. - So Wesley 2784 6

Women's

Sisters and GMs Mariya Muzychuk and Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine, GM Anna Ushenina, and GM Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia, are the global stars for the event, joined by Indians GM Humpy Koneru and GM Harika Dronavalli. A notable inclusion is of IM Oliwia Kiolbasa of Poland who had a sensational performance at the Chess Olympiad in India earlier in the year.

(l-r) IM Oliwia Kiolbasa, GM Mariya Muzychuk, and GM Nana Dzagnidze at the drawing of lots. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Koneru acknowledges the excitement bound to be created by the format of the event where five Indian players will face five global stars, both in the rapid and blitz sections. She also notes the generational challenge: "Within the five Indian players [themselves], there is a young batch, quite a talented one. This is the first time I will be facing them ... there is a lot of generation gap!"

The trophy for the rapid event. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

The counterpoint to her pragmatic assessment of the event is that of 20-year-old WGM Vantika Agarwal of India, who is visibly excited to be in Kolkata. Agrawal too is a last-minute replacement for IM Bhakti Kulkarni, who too had to skip the rapid event on being conferred with the Arjuna Award.

WGM Vantika Agrawal at the drawing of lots. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Vantika says with enthusiasm: "I am very glad that I am a part of this first Women Tata Steel Rapid tournament and looking forward to [playing] against the world's best players, and Indian Grandmasters Koneru Humpy [and] Harika Dronavalli. I am very excited!" Her words aptly capture the general mood of the day. 

Round 1 Women's Pairings 

Bo. No. Rtg Fed Name Result Name  Fed Rtg  No. 
1 1 2458 GM Muzychuk Anna - GM Koneru Humpy 2474 10
2 2 2476 GM Muzychuk Mariya - WGM Vantika Agrawal 2262 9
3 3 2311 WIM Savitha Shri B - GM Dzagnidze Nana 2475 8
4 4 2351 IM Vaishali Rameshbabu - GM Harika Dronavalli 2475 7
5 5 2304 IM Kiolbasa Oliwia - GM Ushenina Anna 2371 6

The 2022 Tata Steel Chess India Rapid and Women's Rapid are two of India's most prestigious rapid chess events. Players compete in a 10-player round-robin in rapid games with a 15+10 time control. The prize fund for each event is $24,000.


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