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Chess: Arjun top seed in Sharjah Masters, total 19 Indians in fray

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Sharjah, May 14 (PTI) Grandmaster and world number seven Erigaisi Arjun starts as the top seed as he spearheads a strong Indian challenge in the USD 52,000 Sharjah Masters Chess tournament here.

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One of the strongest open events in the world will see participation of as many as 19 Indian Grandmasters and S L Narayanan will be the second highest rated Indian ahead of Nihal Sarin.

The nine-round Swiss tournament, which carries a total prize pool of USD 52,000 with USD 12,000 reserved for the winner, begins later in the day.

Arjun flew straight from Warsaw where he just finished the Superbet Rapid and Blitz tournament ending fifth overall.

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This is a rare case of a top-10 player participating in open events and Arjun has played exceptionally well in the past few months.

The reason top players avoid competing in open events is the huge risk to their rating but Arjun is setting new standards by actually gaining points from open events.

While there are nine players above Elo 2700 in the fray, Arjun is 29 points ahead of second seed Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran.

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The tournament comes close on the heels of Dubai Police Global Chess challenge that was dominated by the Indians.

V Pranav was the worthy winner taking home USD 16,500. For the first time ever in an International open of this stature, the top three prizes were bagged by Indians with Aravindh Chithambaram finishing second and M Pranesh coming third.

Chithambaram is a two-time national champion and has been making steady progress.

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For the first time in his career, the Chennai-based player has cracked into the top-50 of world rankings and will be hoping to make further progress.

Nihal Sarin was in the eye of a storm when he was indirectly accused of online cheating by Russian great Vladimir Kramnik because of his stupendous results in the online blitz games.

The champion from Kerala is exceptional in the faster version of the game and has been one of the best players when it comes to online chess.

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A bit stagnant for some time, Sarin will also hope to have a good tournament and break free from the present levels.

Abhijeet Gupta is a former world junior champion and has won tournaments across continents.

He is a feared opponent for many but inconsistency has been a problem for him in the last few years.

Having recovered from a serious hand injury, Gupta is another Indian to look forward to in the event that has 88 participants in all.

Participants from India: =============== Erigaisi Arjun, S L Narayanan, Nihal Sarin, Aravindh Chithambaram, Raunak Sadhwani, Leon Luke Mendonca, Abhimanyu Puranik, Aditya Mittal, Abhijeet Gupta, S P Sethuraman, V Pranav, Bharath Subramaniyam, Sankalp Gupta, Pranav Anand, Raja Rithvik, B Adhiban, D Harika, Aditya Samant, P Iniyan. PTI Cor PM PM PM

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