Gukesh heads large Indian presence at Airthings Masters

February 7, 2023

ChessChess Tournament


Fresh from beating former World champion Vladimir Kramnik three times in a day, teen sensation D. Gukesh will open his campaign against Hikaru Nakamura in Division 1 of the $235,000 Airthings Masters online rapid chess tournament late on Monday.

Besides Gukesh, who qualified after winning a 140-player qualifier spread over eight hours by scoring 7.5 points from nine rounds, another Indian in Division 1 is Arjun Erigaisi.

Importantly, Gukesh remained unbeaten in his quest. He drew with Alireza Firouzja, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Fabiano Caruana while his most notable of six victims was Kramnik. Later, when Gukesh had the choice of six opponents, the youngster chose the 12th-placed Kramnik and beat him 2-0.

In the new season, the opening event of the $ 2-million Champions Chess Tour has three divisions. Division 1 has eight players, Division two has 16 and Division three has 32 players. Each division follows a double-elimination knockout format. Even after a defeat, a player has a chance to come back into title-contention from the losers’ bracket.

The winner’s share in Division 1 is $30,000 (and 150 Tour points), in Division 2 it is $10,000 (50 points) and in Division 3, it is kept at $5,000 (20 points). The top three finishers from Division 1 and the winner of Division 2 earn qualification to Division 1 in the next event on the Tour.

The quarterfinals of Division 1 are – Magnus Carlsen (Norway) v Alexey Sarana (FIDE), Alireza Firouzja (Fra)-Arjun Erigaisi; Wesley So (USA)-Rauf Mamedov (Aze) and D. Gukesh-Hikaru Nakamura (USA).

In Division 2, which has Kramnik, Caruana, Nepomniachtchi and Daniil Dubov, among others, Raunak Sadhwani and Diptayan Ghosh present the Indian challenge. Sadhwani faces China’s Yu Yangyi and Ghosh takes on Caruana in the first round.

The presence of R. Praggnanandhaa, P. Iniyan and V. Pranav ensures that Division 3 carries plenty of Indian interest. In the opening round, Praggnanandhaa plays Iran’s Amin Tabatabaei, Iniyan crosses swords with USA’s Aleksandr Lenderman and Pranav runs into Greek rival Nikolas Theodorou.