Updated May 27th, 2024 at 22:03 IST

Norway Chess: R Praggnanandhaa to take on Alireza Firouzja in opener

All eyes will be on reigning world champion Ding Liren of China who is set to defend his title later this year against India's D Gukesh.

Praggnanandhaa | Image:Adani Sportsline
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Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa will start his campaign against Alireza Firouzja of France, while his sister R Vaishali will face women's world champion Wenjun Ju of China in the first round of the Norway Chess tournament here.

Split in to two parts this year, the Norway chess tournament will have six top GMs in men's section and six top women players competing for a total prize pool of 1690000 NOK (around USD 1.6 million).

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In both the sections, the prize fund is identical with 750000 NOK (or about USD 70000) reserved for the winner.

World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen will feature in a classical chess tournament after a long hiatus. The local hero last played the World Cup under classical chess rules that he won but it remains to be seen if he is able to retain the same form after the gap.

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All eyes will be on reigning world champion Ding Liren of China who is set to defend his title later this year against India's D Gukesh.

Since winning his last world championship match against lan Nepomniachtchi of Russia, Liren has played very less competitive chess. In the opener, Liren will take on Carlsen.
Apart from these four, the American duo of Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura will complete the six-player line up. Caruana and Hikaru are pitted against each other in the first round.

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The format is pretty interesting that makes this event different from others. To start with, none of the matches can end with the split of points. In case of a draw, the players will share one point each and then play an Armageddon game to decide the winner of the match.

The point system is quite unusual as well. For each win under the classical time control, three points are awarded. In case of a draw, the winner of the Armageddon gets 1.5 points while the one ending on the losing side takes home one point.

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In the women's section, Vaishali is not the only Indian in the fray. Koneru Humpy will compete along side Vaishali, Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine, veteran Pia Cramling of Sweden and Chinese duo of Wenjun and Tingjie Lei.

For Humpy it will be another test of time. At 37 years, the Indian showed glimpses of her abilities in the women's candidates but she was never in any real contention of winning the event.

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At 61, Cramling makes her appearance in another super category event and everyone will be looking out to score over her. However, since becoming a GM in 1992, Cramling has proven time and again that she is made of sterner stuff and the chess fans will be looking forward to watching her play at the highest level again.

Wenjun Ju is the clear favourite for the title in the women's event, thanks to her consistency over several years now. All eyes, however, will be on Vaishali who finished her candidates tournament with five victories on the trot and the fans will be waiting for an encore from the Chennai-based player. 

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Published May 27th, 2024 at 22:03 IST