Seasoned GM Abhijit Kunte and fast emerging star GM Vidit Gujarathi of Maharashtra jointly earned the distinction of being the most valuable players at the Player Auction for the second edition of Maharashtra Chess League (MLC), which was held here on Friday.
Both Kunte and Gujaratihi, with a base price of Rs 60,000 and Rs 75,000 respectively, were bought by Ahmednagar Checkers and Jalgaon Battlers respectively for Rs 1.20 lakh.
The auction, interestingly, for the first time had three players go past a lakh of rupees. GM Abhjeet Gupta (Base Price: 75,000), from Rajasthan, completed this elite list with Thane Combatants closing bids at Rs 1,10,000. The top-bid this year thus superseded last-year's top contender by Rs 10,000. The MCL, in its second year, would be played from June 11 -15 at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana.
The participating teams were, defending champions Pune Attackers (Owned by Goel Ganga Group), runners-up Jalgaon Battlers (Jain Irrigation Systems Pvt. Ltd.), Thane Combatants (MEP Infrastructures), Ahmednagar Checkers (RBS Sportethics), Mumbai Movers (South Mumbai Chess Association) and new-entrants Pune Tru Masters (Tru Space).
Both Kunte and Gupta will be first time participants in the MCL, while for Nashik's Gujarathi it will be his second stint with Jalgaon Battlers. Last year, the 19-year-old World Junior Chess Championship 2013 bronze medallist in the (Under-20) category, had become the second most expensive player.
On the women's side, Pune's Eesha Karavade, for the second year in a row, became the most valuable player attracting a bid of Rs 85,000. Mumbai Movers came up with the highest bid for Karavade. Orissa's Padmini Rout was second highest after Ahmednagar Checkers came up with Rs. 72,000.
In all 63 players went under the hammer in categories divided into Grandmasters (GM), Women Grandmasters (WGM), International Masters (IM), women players and rated players. Each team had to buy at least one GM, one WGM one IM and a minimum of two women players.
Among the International Masters, Swapnil Dhopade was a stand-out buy after Pune Attackers closed bidding at Rs 72,000. The price paid for Swapnil's was higher than two GMs.
Similarly, among the rated-players Chinmay Kulkarni attracted a Rs 33,000 bid from Mumbai Movers. Chinmay was locked in a long drawn process that involved Pune Tru Movers and Jalgaon Battlers initially, before Mumbai Movers jumped in fray and out-bid Jalgaon Battlers.
The auction was attended by five-time World Champion Vishwanathan Anand