Kolkata: Five-time former world champion Viswanathan Anand will be the star attraction in the upcoming Tata Steel Chess India rapid and blitz tournament in Kolkata from November 9-14.
It was an emotional moment for Anand when the Indian ace revealed he would return to Kolkata to play in a GM competition after a gap of 32 years.
"I remember playing my first GM tournament in Kolkata in 1986 - that was also a Tata Steel event here. I was an International Master then," Anand said during the announcement.
The USD 40,000 prize money tournament will feature three top players in the 2800-plus Elo rating, it was announced. The top players include Azerbaijan GM and world number three Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Armenian GM and world number six Levon Aronian, USA's GM Wesley So who is world number 9, Japanese-American GM and four-time United States champion Hikaru Nakamura who is world number 14 and Russian GM Sergey Karjakin (world number 15).
"There's a lot of excitement to play here. Hope it revitalises the chess in the region," the 48-year-old who is currently ranked 10 in the world said.
Anand regained some form at the Sinquefield Cup that ended in August in St Louis, US, after a run of uninspiring performances since May. The first Indian to become a chess GM, Anand went undefeated in the tournament, though he did not manage any wins either, and finished sixth out of 10 participants.
Anand is part of the Indian contingent for the Chess Olympiad later this month. It will be his first appearance in the tournament since 2006.
Apart from the Indian chess wizard, the Indian GMs include P Harikrishna, Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Vidit Gujarati, Nihal Sarin, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa as a total of 11 top-ranked players will comepte in the meet at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
The participants will play a single round robin (all play all) rapid tournament from November 9-11 followed by a double round robin blitz on the last two days.
With an aim to make this a long-term event, Tata Steel vice president Sunil Bhaskaran said, "We hope it's not a one-off event, there's definitely a plan and it's just the beginning. The idea is to get it into classical format. We are just starting out with the fifty and Twenty overs (rapid and blitz) versions."
Tata Steel has a long-standing association with chess having been the main sponsor of the Wijk aan Zee meet in the Netherlands.
"Tata Steel intends to make this a world class and most sought-after event in professional chess in the years to come," Bhaskaran added.