Sethuraman, Vidit Gujrathi Start Favourites
By Arvind Aaron
The ONGC National Premier Chess Championship will start with the first round scheduled to begin on November 15, 2015 at Tiruvarur, in Tamil Nadu. S.P. Sethuraman of Chennai and Vidit Gujrathi of Nasik are favourites based on their 2651 Elo ratings.
The 53rd edition is a 14-player all-play-all. The field comprises of 8 GMs, 5 IMs and one FIDE Master.
Sethuraman won his maiden title in 2014 in this annual event at Kottayam. G Akash of Chennai became the youngest champion in Kolkata 2012 when he pipped M.R. Venkatesh for the title. Venkatesh has never won this title and is one of the hungry young players.
Equally ambitious for the title are Vidit Gujrathi and National Challengers champion Swapnil Dhopade. The bottom seed is FIDE Master K Praneeth Surya of Hyderabad, one of the big achievers of the National Challengers in Nagpur this August as he earned a ticket to Tiruvarur.
The chief arbiter is R Anantharam. V. Hariharan is the Deputy Chief Arbiter and N.K. Nandakumar is also an arbiter. The Tournament Director is International Arbiter R.K. Balagunashekaran, Secretary of the Tiruvarur District Chess Association.
The opening round pairings: IM P Karthikeyan (TN) v GM M.R. Venkatesh (TN), GM Karthikeyan Murali (TN) v GM S.P. Sethuraman (TN), GM Neelotpal Das (WB) v IM Arghyadip Das (WB), GM Deep Sengupta (WB) v IM Swapnil Dhopade (Mah), GM M Shyam Sundar (TN) v GM Abhijit Kunte (Mah), FM K Praneeth Surya (Tel) v GM Vidit Gujrathi (Mah), IM K Rathnakaran (Ker) v IM P Shyam Nikil (TN).