Kolkata has a vibrant chess scene with a really fascinating history. The key chess club in Kolkata (and one of the most prestigious clubs in Asia), the Alekhine chess club, is named after Alexander Alekhine. Born in Russia, Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine (1892-1946) was undoubtedly one of the best chess players ever to have lived. He also dedicated a lot of his time to analysing chess from a theoretical point of view and even gave his name to an new opening: ‘Alekhine’s Defence’. For those who are interested in the particularities of this opening, Alekhine’s Defence begins 1. e4 Nf6. It can continue in a variety of ways, and tends to do so with the pawns maintaining an attack thus: 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4. As well as its illustrious nomenclature, the Alekhine chess club was explicitly founded to symbolise and to strengthen ties between India and Russia.
At the moment, the Alekhine Chess Club is hosting the Rose Valley Open International Chess Tournament in Kolkata. The tournament runs between December 3rd and December 12th, and has attracted very many exciting Grandmasters from across the globe. So make sure that you keep your eyes on Kolkata this week, as there is going to be some very exciting play, and hopefully some new and unexpected talents emerging on the international chess stage.
One of the Grandmasters currently playing at the Rose Valley Open International Chess Tournament, for example, is Radek (or ‘Radoslaw’) Wojtaszek. Polish player Wojtaszek is the person in this tournament with the highest FIDE ratings. He first came to the attention of chess fans and commentators, perhaps, in 2004 when he won the European Youth Chess Championship. Now, aged 25, he is a Grandmaster with a whole host of fantastic wins under his belt. For many, the top spot in Kolkata is as good as won for Wojtaszek. However, given the prodigious talent of the other players, perhaps we ought not to be so sure about that!
Challenging Wojtaszek in Kolkata are a number of other great players. For example, the renowned Ukranian Grandmaster Anton Korobov has also flown to Kolkata, fresh from his win at the 2012 Ukranian chess championships. Moreover, some notable players are battling it out on their home turf, too, such as the brilliant Indian WGM Mary Ann Gomes. Gomes tends to vary her openings from tournament to tournament and from game to game (the King’s Indian, the Sicilian, and the English opening are just three examples of her commonly-played opening games) and so she is certain to keep us guessing too throughout the next week of chess in Kolkata!