International chess festival at Bhubaneswar in January

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International chess festival will be held on SOA campus in Bhubaneswar from January 28 to February 4.

Bhubaneswar: The Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan Deemed to be University (SOA) will host the first SOA International Grand Masters Chess Festival on the university campus here from January 28 to February 4, 2024.

The tournament, which will have a total prize money of Rs 35 lakh, will be organised by the All Odisha Chess Association (AOCA) with the support of SOA, International Chess Federation (ICF), All India Chess Federation (AICF), Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Odisha government.

Around 1,500 players from at least 18 to 20 countries are expected to take part in the eight-day tournament to be held on Campus-2 of the university, Prof. Pradipta Kumar Nanda, vice-chancellor of SOA, informed during a press conference on Wednesday.

Players from Denmark, Netherlands, Iran, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Armenia, Belarus, Egypt, Philippines, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Slovakia, Zimbabwe and India have confirmed their participation, he said.

Basant Kumar Das, vice-president and Debabrata Bhatta, secretary of All Odisha Chess Association (AOCA) besides Prof Jyoti Ranjan Das, dean (Students’ Welfare) of SOA, were present at the press conference.

“SOA has come forward to support the event which is praiseworthy. It would go a long way towards making chess a popular sport. The university is providing its infrastructure for holding the event besides extending financial support. The state government was also making efforts to make chess popular by setting up a chess academy in Bhubaneswar, Bhatta said.

Around 60 to 70 Grand Masters and International Masters from different countries including more than 20 from India would be participating in the event, he said adding the tournament would have the highest prize money in the state.

Grand Master Abhijeet Gupta (2596 ELO Rating), who won the Junior World Chess championship in Turkey in 2008, is the top seed in the tournament, he said.

The players will be divided into three categories — Category-A, Category-B and Category-C. While Category-A will have a total prize money of Rs 20 lakh, it will be Rs 7.5 lakh each for Category-B and Category-C, Bhatta said.

The tournament will be conducted as per FIDE laws of Chess and FIDE Swiss system with 10 rounds in Category ‘A’ and ‘B’ and nine rounds in Category ‘C’. The latest FIDE rules in force shall apply. The All India Chess Federation (AICF) registration for the 2023-24 financial year is mandatory for Indian players while the foreign players will require a valid FIDE ID for participation.

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