World Cup begins in Sochi today

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Wildcard B. Adhiban heads a group of nine well-prepared Indians who begin as first-round favourites to join teammates P. Harikrishna, Vidit Gujrathi and D. Harika in the second round of their respective sections of the chess World Cup.

The action begins in Sochi on Monday. Each round comprises a two-game mini-match on classical time-control.

Tie-breaker

In case of a tie, players will be required to play a pair of games in rapid, blitz formats, followed by an Armageddon game, if necessary.

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Nicknamed ‘The Beast’ for his aggressive, uncompromising play, Adhiban is looking to become the first Indian, after Viswanathan Anand, to go past the third round.

After landing in Sochi, Adhiban recalled: “When I made my debut, in 2013, I reached the third round but never again in three more attempts. So I am keen to break that ‘hoodoo’ this time.”

He starts favourite against Malawi’s Chiletso Chipanga in the campaign-opener.

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Wildcard

“I cannot be complacent, though.

“ I will have to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of myself,” said Adhiban, who considers himself lucky to get a wildcard.

Also present at the venue is the country’s noted coach Grandmaster R.B. Ramesh. Ramesh’s presence should be of immense help to three of his students — Aravindh Chithambaram, siblings R. Praggnanandhaa and R. Vaishali.

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First-round pairings (involving Indians):

Men: B. Adhiban vs Chiletso Chipanga (Mwi); Aravindh Chithambaram vs Michael Concio Jr. (Phi); Nihal Sarin vs Arthur Ssegwanyi (Uga); R. Praggnanandhaa vs Paulo Bersamina (Phi); D. Gukesh vs Pawel Teclaf (Pol); P. Iniyan vs Sebastian Bogner (Swi).

Women: Padmini Rout vs Ulviyya Fataliyeva (Aze); Bhakti Kulkarni vs Anastasya Paramzina (Rus); R. Vaishali vs Zhou Qiyu (Can).

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