Hyderabad: Telangana’s first chess Grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi has been selected for the prestigious Goldmoney Asian Rapid chess event scheduled to begin online from June 26.
He is the only one from the State and one among four Indians to make the cut for the event. He will be facing world champion Magnus Carlsen along with top chess players from Asia including the likes of top woman chess female player Hou Yifan from China. India, with four contestants – Arjun, Vidit Gujrathi, Adhiban Baskaran and D Gukesh – has become the country with most participants in the event that will feature 16 top-class participants.
An elated Arjun says he hopes to give his best and expects good results from the tournament. “So far, this is the biggest tournament in my career. Playing against top players like Carlsen, Vidit and others is very tough but it will be a good experience. I am working hard on my game and focusing on improving my openings. Hopefully I will have a good tournament,” he said.
The Asian Rapid chess is the seventh leg of Champions Chess Tour’s rapid chess format which offers a whopping prize money of $100,000. Arjun emerged the top performer in the tournament conducted to select the candidates for this event. “We had Indian qualifying tournament where the top two finishers would be assured of a place. I stood first in the tournament and got selected. Adhiban stood second. Both of us qualified from that tournament while Vidit got a wild card.”
When asked about facing world champion Carlsen, he said, “I had played him previously as well. Even during the pandemic, I had played casual games against him and Anish (Giri). They were not serious games, but I got good experience playing them.” The 17-year-old Arjun, who had become first from the Telangana State to achieve grandmaster title in 2018, has, currently has a rating of 2567. His highest rating was 2575 but the pandemic robbed him of achieving his target reaching 2600 and 2700 rating points.
“When the pandemic started, we were still motivated to play tournaments online. But in between, we lost motivation. Since the beginning of 2012, I started playing tournaments online again. Now, the over the board tournaments are also resuming. There is no dearth of motivation,” he revealed.
He further said that he had participated in Bangladesh chess league in March where he got eight more ranking points. “I went to Bangladesh in March to participate in the Premier Division Chess League, Bangladesh. I represented Titas Gas team and secured 8.5 points with seven wins and three draws. That also helped me gain eight rating points.”
With the world limping back from the coronavirus pandemic, the Warangal boy is planning to tour abroad. “There are a few tournaments lined up. I am planning to take part in Serbian Open and Palestine Open in July,” he divulged.
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