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, Russia, on Monday. Each round comprises a two-game mini-match on classical time-control. 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.

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.

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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…

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