17 Indians will fight it out for the one World Cup spot at the AICF Qualifier
The World Cup 2021 which will be held in June 2021 in Sochi, Russia is an event that everyone is looking forward. For top Indian players the way to reach a World Cup is generally through the Asian Continental tournament. However, this year, no Indian could participate in it as it was in a hybrid format and the Covid situation made it impossible for our stars to play. Hence, the AICF World Cup Qualifiers are taking place from the 26th to 30th May where 17 Indians who were slated to play at the Asian Continental will fight it out against each other. The winner qualifies to the World Cup 2021.
The World Cup 2021 is going to be a huge event where 2 spots for the Candidates 2022 are reserved. The World Cup will be a 206 player event where top 50 rated players are directly seeded into round 2. The remaining 156 players will fight it out in round 1 and 78 players will advance to round 2 to join the top 50 seeds in the tournament. Since several years now the World Cup is held in a format of 128 players. Because the number has been increased to 206, the number of qualification spots from important events have also increased. This year, the Asian Continental had 8 spots for the World Cup, but because no Indian players could participate due to the Covid situation, there needed to be another solution. Speaking to ChessBase India, AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan said, "We tried hard to organize the hybrid Asian Continental event for our players by setting up centers in Chennai and Pune. But because of the Covid situation it became impossible for our players to play. Travelling to different states is not easy. We even thought about sending an arbiter to each home, but that is also risky due to the Covid-19 situation."
The AICF requested FIDE to consider this as a special situation and hence, an online qualifier event has been granted just for the Indian players who had enrolled for the Asian Continental 2021. There were 19 players who had enrolled for the tournament by paying the fee and they will now fight it out at the AICF World Cup Qualifiers 2021 for the one World Cup spot. Out of the 19 players, Vidit Gujrathi and Abhimanyu Puranik pulled out, which leaves it as a Round Robin event of 17 players.
Key info about the tournament:
17-player Round Robin event (one player will get a bye each round)
The tournament will start every day from 11 a.m. from the 26th to the 30th of May 2021.
Time control is 15 mins + 10 sec increment
There is no prize fund, the winner of the tournament gets a direct entry into the World Cup 2021
|10||GM||Sekhar Ganguly Surya||5002150||IND||2625|
|7||GM||Vasanthan Perumal Vishnu Prasanna||5030692||IND||2476|
|1||IM||Srivatshav Peddi Rahul||25059653||IND||2463|
|12||IM||Rithvik R Raja||35007394||IND||2408|
|13||IM||Krishnan P Saravana||5018382||IND||2312|
|17||FM||Vinay Kumar Matta||5016649||IND||2305|
After the above tournament was announced a lot of other Indian players also wanted to take part in it. However, it was only meant for the players who actually wanted to play at the Asian Continental 2021 and hence the number of entries that could be accepted were not increased. The field is a nice mix of top players from India like Adhiban, Sethu, Surya Ganguly, S.L. Narayanan and also young talents like Gukesh, Iniyan, Rahul Srivathshav, Aditya Mittal, Rithvik Raja! The only female player taking part in the event is Soumya Swaminathan.
Vidit Gujrathi, who was slated to play this event, decided to pull out because it is very likely that he would get qualified through the rating slots into the main draw. Until now only one Indian has qualified to the World Cup 2021 and that is Aravindh Chithambaram - as he became the National Champion of India in 2019. Harikrishna and Vidit would most likely get through the rating slots. Vishy Anand would most likely give the World Cup a miss as his Dortmund no castling event clashes with this one.