By Aditya Pai
26 August 2017
The recently concluded Spanish Higher League held in Linares brought big news for Indian chess. The top board player for Team Solvay, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, had won his final round game and finished the tournament with an unbeaten score of 4.5/7. With this last round win against Ukrainian Grand Master Alexander Areschenko, Gujrathi crossed the coveted 2,700 Elo rating mark ” a feat only three Indians (Viswanathan Anand, Krishnan Sasikiran and Pentala Harikrishna) have been able to achieve before him. Since would not be playing any more tournaments this month, his published rating on 1 September will be 2,702.
Talking about his feat, the 22-year-old wrote on Facebook that he felt relieved since he had been very close to the 2,700 mark since his last few tournaments. He further added that he also realised that rating did not mean anything if one didn’t work hard.
Gujrathi had been chasing this milestone for quite a few years now. In fact, in an interview with ‘The Hindu’, back in November 2015, Gujrathi had already made it clear that his next goal was to reach Elo 2,700. At the World Team Championship held earlier this year, he came very close.
In the first two rounds, he had defeated Radoslaw Wojtaszek and drawn against the Chinese number one, Ding Liren, bringing his rating up to 2698.7 in live ratings. His performance in the latter rounds, however, pulled him back and he missed out on achieving his goal.
But Gujrathi isn’t someone who would get so easily discouraged. He has suffered several setbacks before and has always come back as a winner. In fact, ever since he started playing chess, Gujrathi was obsessed with winning. In the initial days, he wanted to win against his father; that was solely why he wanted to learn the game! Once that was achieved, he was itching to win at the tournaments he participated in. And when even that was accomplished, he set out to etch his name on the global stage. In 2008, he won the Under-14 World Championship. His zeal to achieve bigger milestones never let him rest.
Today, he has not only achieved the 2,700 Elo mark but is also preparing to cross swords with the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of the chess world. He will be in Tbilisi, Georgia next month to play the Chess World Cup. If he wins or finishes as a runner up at this event, he will qualify for the Candidates tournament, the event whose winner gets to challenge the world champion for his title. But the road to victory will be a tough one this time as the field includes bigwigs like the current world champion, Magnus Carlsen, former five-time world champion, Anand; current world number two, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave; and many others.
The Indian number three is currently in Prague where he will be spending a couple of weeks before heading to Tbilisi for the big event. He knows that this is a huge opportunity for him and is training hard for it. The task ahead of him is indeed a tough one. But with his kind of attitude he is sure to achieve all that he desires, maybe not immediately, but definitely.