CHENNAI: Vidit Gujrathi has been India's most improved chess player in the last 12 months. The 23-year-old won his second title in 2018, jointly with Nils Grandelius, at the Sigeman Chess Tournament in Malmo, Sweden, on Tuesday. He had earlier won the Challengers section in Tata Steel Chess, becoming the third Indian to the title after P Harikrishna and B Adhiban.
In a short round-robin tournament, Vidit won his last two games, against Alexander Morozevich and Linus Johansson, to share the crown with Grandelius, who had been leading throughout. Staying unbeaten, Vidit secured 3.5 points in five rounds and gained 2.8 rating points. This victory pushes him to World No 33 with a live rating of 2709.8.
“Winning a close tournament of just five rounds is not an easy task. His last two victories were quite nice and speaks about his calm nature. He also took his chances in the last two games,” lauded India No 2 Harikrishna. "It is nice to have more Indians at the top. He will be a huge asset for the Indian team at the forthcoming Chess Olympiad.”
Others in the chess fraternity are equally effusive in praise. "Quite impressed with Vidit’s victory, more so with his win over a player like Morozevich. Striking and simple victory, a la Anatoly Karpov,” felt GM Sundararajan Kidambi. “Big leap and still growing! Great potential to be the next big thing in Indian chess,” he said of Vidit’s progress.
Barring his below-par show at the Aeroflot Open, his previous tournament, Vidit has been consistency personified. He achieved his best in Wijk aan Zee, qualifying for the Masters in 2019, where he will be matching wits with the likes of Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana. He is the fourth Indian in the 2700 club after Viswanathan Anand, Krishnan Sasikiran and Harikrishna.
Good opening preparation and deep positional understanding are his biggest strengths. Vidit’s solid style makes him a tough player to beat. He makes fewer mistakes and loses less number of games, which is also a reason for his tremendous growth. Working with Dutch No 1 Anish Giri has had a positive impact on his game.
His immediate goal would be to improve his rating, which should help him get invitations to strong round-robin tournaments. If he keeps performing, breaking into the top-20 is a realistic possibility in 2018.
Standings: 1-2: Vidit Gujrathi (Ind), N Grandelius (Swe) 3.5. 3. A Tari (Nor) 3. 4-5: B Gledura (Hun), A Morozevich (Rus) 2. 6. L Johansson (Swe) 1.