A NEW champion will be crowned at the Mohammed Badshah Memorial Open Chess tournament to be held today as reigning champions Grand Master Ian Rogers will not be competing to defend the title he won last year.
Rogers came from Australia last year to compete in the annual tournament but the Fiji Chess Federation (FCF) confirmed he was committed with other international tournaments.
FCF president Dr Virgilio de Asa said Rogers's unavailability levels the playing field for the local players.
"He (Rogers) was a Grand Master and we do not have any Grand Masters in Fiji yet so his win last year was not on an even playing level," de Asa said.
"When a Grand Master competes in the local tournament like this with only a few candidate masters, it is 80 percent likely the Grand Master will win," he said.
He said this is the perfect opportunity for the top local chess players to perform at their best.
"Now the local players have an equal chance to fight for the Mohammed Badshah Memorial Open.
"Candidate Master (CM) Calvin Prasad is in top form lately and is undefeated in his past 30 matches.
"CM Manoj Kumar is other player who is likely to win the tournament and then there is Dr Neel Arora, who on his day can be a threat to any top player."
Meanwhile, de Asa said the players in today's tournament should used the event to get used to the new clocks that will be used in next month's Fiji International Open that will be held in Suva.
"This is the last build-up to the Fiji International Open."