The South Asian Chess Championship (SACC), a prestigious event that brings together the finest chess players from eight South Asian countries, is set to commence today in Godavari, Lalitpur. Organized by the Nepal Chess Federation (NCF), this week-long event promises to be a thrilling contest of strategic brilliance and intellectual prowess.
A Panorama of Participation
The championship will witness participation from India, Maldives, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the host country, Nepal. The tournament will feature a total of 20 players, with an equal representation of male and female participants. Each participating country will be represented by one player in both the male and female categories, with the exception of Nepal, which will have two players in each category.
The Format and the Favorites
The tournament will be conducted in a round-robin format, ensuring that each player gets an opportunity to compete against all others. The spotlight will be on the defending champions - Indian grandmaster Nubairshah Shaikh in the men's category and Sharmin Sultana Shirin from Bangladesh in the women's category, both of whom will be vying to retain their crowns.
Uncertainty and Contingency
While all countries have confirmed their participation, Afghanistan's presence is still uncertain. In the event of their non-arrival until the tie-sheet draw, the South Asian Chess Council (SACC) has given the green light for Nepal to field two additional players.
Nepal will be represented by National champion FIDE Master (FM) Rupesh Jaiswal and runners-up Surbir Lama in the men's section. In the women's section, Woman FM Sujana Lohani, the national champion, and runners-up Sushila Gurung will carry the hopes of the host nation.
The Prize Pool
The championship carries a total cash prize of Rs 500,000. The top three finishers will be awarded Rs100,000, Rs60,000, and Rs40,000, respectively. The total expected cost of the event is estimated to be around Rs4 million.
The South Asian Chess Championship is a testament to the growing popularity and competitive spirit of chess in the South Asian region. As the grandmasters prepare to battle it out on the chessboard, the event promises to be a spectacle of strategic mastery and intellectual agility. The outcome of this championship will not only determine the regional chess supremo but also contribute to the global chess rankings of the participating players.