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AICF, SportzPR to hold biggest Asian chess tourney in December

MUMBAI: The All India Chess Frederation (AICF) and sports communication consultancy, SportzPR has announced that it will organise A Category 20 Super Grandmaster World Invitation chess tournament.

The nearly three-week event with 13 rounds is scheduled to take place in December 2003 in Mumbai. Top players like Gary Kasparov, V Kramnik, Anand, Judit Polgar will participate. A Category 20 is a Super Grandmaster tournament where the average international rating of the players is above 2700 ELO. India's second Super Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran will also be seen in action.

Currently, the two companies are talking with various sponsors. SportzPR president and CMCG India MD Samir Kale said that besides Doordarshan, other private broadcasters have expressed interest in covering the tournament.

According to Kale: " This tournament is not going to be difficult to sell as there are celebrities involved. It is not just brilliant minds that we are talking about here. In addition there has been a viewership shift this year from just cricket to other sports where Indians have excelled in the international arena such as hockey, football and chess. We are trying to finalise an arrangement wherein the last 45 minutes of a chess game can be shown live. The event will also be broadcast on the web. In addition we will be putting up on giant screens in different locations of the country."

The tournament is being organised by Venus Chess Academy. Maharastra Chess Association president Raghunandan Gokhale said, " The reason we are holding the tournament towards the end of the year is because the players have a hectic schedule. Therefore they have to be contracted well in advance. Also in December children have time on their hands."

"We will be organising attractions leading up to the event. These will kick off three to four days before the start of the tournament. You will see a Super Grandmaster play blindfold exhibition matches. There will also be five-minute Blitz chess duels. We will organise a series of lectures, which will be conducted by the GMs and coaches so that people interested in learning more about the game can benefit," he said

"We will also be taking the lecture and training sessions to other parts of the country as well. The total prize money on offer for the tournament will be Rs 30,00,000. Our goal is to make this an annual event. In December we expect around 5000 people to be in attendance and therefore we are still in the process of finalising arrangements for the venue," he added.

In addition Venus Chess Academy will also organise the Commonwealth Chess Championship in February 2004. This will be done on behalf of the Commonwealth Chess Association. The AICF is hoping to host this event annually as well if the other commonwealth nations do not express interest.

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