New Delhi: The 2023 FIDE World Championship finalist Ian Nepomniachtchi will lead the star-studded squad of Balan Alaskan Knights in the inaugural edition of Global Chess League and the side also includes the reigning womens world rapid champion Tan Zhongyi of China and Uzbek teenage sensation Nodirbek Abdusattorov.
Owned by Punit Balan Group (PBG), Balan Alaskan Knights is among the six franchises to compete in the league scheduled at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club from June 21 to July 2.
“We are excited about the Global Chess League and represent India on the global platform in this historic milestone. We have a perfect blend of youth and experience and the team looks solid with a remarkable group of individuals who have already proved themselves at the international stage. With this powerful line-up, we are confident to scale new heights and make our mark in the league,” Punit Balan, Chairman and Managing Director of Punit Balan Group, was quoted as saying in a media release.
The 32-year-old Russian Nepomniachtchi is currently ranked fourth in the world. He is accompanied by Azerbaijan’s experienced campaigner Teimour Radjabov, who had secured bronze medal at the 2004 World Championship, and the 18-year-old Abdusattorov.
In 2021, Abdusattorov became the youngest-ever to clinch the World Rapid Chess Championship title and he also shocked great Magnus Carlsen to win the 2021 Championship. He was part of the Uzbekistan team that won gold at the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai in 2022 wherein he also secured an individual silver for his board 1 performance.
The 17-year-old Indian chess prodigy Raunak Sadhwani is also part of the Balan Alaskan Knights team as the Nagpur-born player will be eager to make his mark and get a much-needed exposure when he teams up with some of the biggest names of the chess world.
“I am really excited to be a part of Balan Alaskan Knights. And I am really looking forward to playing along with my teammates. I hope we as a team can perform well and help the team win. It’s definitely a great opportunity to team up with some of the top players. It motivates me to perform well,” Sadhwani expressed his excitement.
China’s Zhongyi, former women’s world champion, and the 36-year-old Georgian grandmaster Nino Batsiashvili complete the six-member squad. Batsiashvili had won individual gold at the 44th Chess Olympiad for her performance at board 2 in the women’s section.
The Global Chess League is a joint venture between Tech Mahindra and FIDE.
Balan Alaskan Knights squad: Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), Raunak Sadhwani (India), Tan Zhongyi (China) and Nino Batsiashvili (Georgia).