Russia's Pavel Ponkratov leads a strong field in the 12th Chennai Open International Grandmaster Chess Tournament 2020 for Sakthi Group Dr N Mahalingam Trophy, which begins on January 18. Ponkratov is the top-seed and the favourite and the challenge is expected to come from second seed Martinez Alcantara Jose Eduardo (Peru) and defending champion Levan Pantsulaia, organisers said at a press conference here on Thursday. The tournament has attracted 267 entries which includes 37 foreign players from 20 countries.
A total of 29 GMs, 25 International Masters and 3 Women Grand Masters are in the fray, the organising committee chairman B Velmurugan said. The Indian challenge will be led by GMs N R Visakh, M R Venkatesh, Karthik Venkataraman, Vishnu Prasanna V, Saptarshi Roy, Neelotpal Das, P Karthikeyan and Sundararajan Kidambi among others. The tournament, organised by Tamil Nadu State Chess Association, carries sa total prize money of Rs 15 lakh with the winner set to receive Rs three lakh. According to the tournament director Stephen Balasamy, the 10-round Swiss tournament offers GM and IM norm chances for the Indian players.