Mumbai: The 3rd Mayor’s Cup chess tournament, which got underway in Mumbai on Wednesday, provided yet another example of just how far the game of kings and queens and 64 squares has come, and a reminder of how far there is to go still.
The tournament has got 353 entries this year, a rise of more than 100 from the previous edition. Of the 353, 41 are Grand Masters (nearly double from 2009), 253 are internationally rated and as many as 88 players have won titles — numbers that make the field fairly competitive.
On Day 1 here, there were two surprises. One on the 16th table, where Pravesh Satra from Dombivli held Ukrainian GM Kravtsiv Martyn for a draw after 22 moves, and the second where Pune’s Sarang Ponkshe held Kazakhstan GM Anuar Ismagambetov after a gruelling encounter that lasted 53 moves.
Even Parimarjan Negi, the youngest GM in the country and the top-ranked Indian player here, needed four hours and 65 moves to take a full point against the inexperienced Jotish Joy.
Less than a month after Viswanathan Anand retained his world championship title by beating Veselin Topalov, this certainly is another indication of how the game is growing on the ground. But organising tournaments of this nature — which give young Indian players a chance to improve their ratings — remains a demanding task.
“Anand’s performances have brought the sport into the limelight, he’s given parents the confidence to allow their children to pursue the sport,” Ravindra Dongre, senior vice-president of the All-India Chess Federation, told DNA.
“But getting in corporate sponsorship for these events is still very hard,” he said. The Mayor’s Cup is sponsored by the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the BMC. “These tournaments are important as youngsters get the opportunity to play GMs and other higher ranked players without having to travel abroad,” Dongre said. An opportunity that Dombivli’s Satra and Pune’s Ponkshe grabbed with both hands.
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– GM Susan Polgar