Sharjah: Highly-rated Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran and nine other Indian Grandmasters form the biggest group of leaders after the first round of the $65,000 Asian Continental Chess Championships at the plush Sharjah Chess Club in Sharjah.
Sixty-four representatives from 21 countries are competing in the Open division including 32 Grandmasters.
Also winning their first-round assignments were Indian GMs Ganguly Surya Shekhar, Gupta Abhijeet, Adhiban B., Sethuraman S.P., Gopal G.N., Sengupta Deep, Vaibhav Suri, Debashis Das and Kunte Abhijit.
Together with the 10-man group of Indian GMs,setting the pace are four Chinese, three Vietnamese players and two each from Iran, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Local hero GM Salem A.R. Saleh of Sharjah is among the early leaders.
Top seed is China’s Bu Xiangzhi, rated 2699, followed by former Asian Games champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan at 2693. Sasikiran, rated 2680, is third seed.
The tournament is a nine-round Swiss. The top five players qualify for the World Cup, which is the next stage of the world championship cycle. The women’s champion advances to the Women’s World Championship.
A separate women’s division is being played with 32 players from 16 countries. International Master Tania Sachdev and two other Indian women are setting the pace with wins in the first round together with three Vietnamese, two Iranians and one player each from China, Singapore and Kazakhstan and 2012 Asian woman champion Irene Sukandar of Indonesia.