New Delhi, Jun 30 (PTI) Grandmaster and defending champion Abhijeet Gupta will be vying for a hat-trick of titles when he opens his campaign at the Commonwealth Chess Championship, beginning here on Monday. Also Read - Liquor Likely to Become Costly in Delhi. Here's Why

To be inaugurated by Sports Minister Vijay Goel, the championship has over 550 registered players in various categories spanning from under-8 till open. Also Read - 15 BJP Workers Admitted to Hospital After Being Attacked by TMC Leaders in East Midnapur | Updates

At the last count, there are 16 Grandmasters and 13 International Masters in the fray apart from five more Woman Grandmasters. Also Read - Rail Services Between West Bengal, Bangladesh Resume: How Will it Boost Trade, Connectivity?

The open section will be really strong this time with over 50 titled players out of around 120 participants. The event will provide ample opportunities for the norm seekers from the host country.

The women challenge will be spearheaded by defending champion Tania Sachdev but she is expected to get stiff resistance from the likes of national champion Padmini Rout.

Players from 15 countries including some from South Africa and Kenya have registered for the nine-day long event that will decide the medallists of this year’s championship.

This is the first time ever that the championships will be played in 15 different categories. While the Indian players are likely to dominate there is stiff challenge coming from Bangladesh in the open section wherein they have fielded as many as four Grandmasters.

The ride for Abhijeet will not be easier than the last year when the Indian had annexed the crown in Sri Lanka. The local challenge from Delhi will also come from Vaibhav Suri and Sahaj Grover, who are both young Grandmasters.

The championships carry a total prize fund of Rs 10 lacs.

The championships will be played for a maximum of nine rounds. Alongside the championships the first ever media tournament in Delhi will also be organised.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.