Chess: Vidit Gujrathi wins Biel tournament

Gujrathi is ranked No. 35 at the moment, with 2703 Elo points. Only two other Indians are ranked higher — Anand (No. 9) and Pendyala Harikrishna (No. 24).

Vidit Gujrathi bagged the top honour in Biel.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

It is not every day that you find an Indian player other than Viswanathan Anand making a final, winning move in a prestigious chess tournament. So what Vidit Gujrathi has achieved in the Swiss town of Biel on Tuesday is creditable.

Even more praiseworthy is the manner in which the 24-year-old from Nashik won the Biel International Chess Festival. Not only did he clinch the title with a round to spare, but also finished with a 3-0 demolition of Iran’s promising teenager Parham Maghsoodloo in the final round — when he could have opted to play it easy.

It is a triumph Gujrathi could feel proud about. When he looks at the previous winners in Biel, the history of which goes back to 1968, he may feel even prouder.

The list includes Anatoly Karpov, Anand and Magnus Carlsen, all World champions. The latest edition may not have been as strong as some of the earlier ones — Gujrathi was seeded second, behind Samuel Shankland of the United States — but there is still a lot of prestige attached to it.

And Gujrathi won the tournament in a demanding format that combined all the three forms of chess — classical, rapid and blitz. It is probably the biggest tournament victory of his career, which should give his confidence a major boost.

“This could be a turning point for him,” Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte, who has worked with him on several occasions, told Sportstar over the phone from Pune. “The way he played at Biel was remarkable. I have always believed that he had the potential to reach the World's Top 10.”

Gujrathi is ranked No. 35 at the moment, with 2703 Elo points. Only two other Indians are ranked higher — Anand (No. 9) and Pendyala Harikrishna (No. 24).

“Vidit has age on his side, though to score Elo points after crossing 2700 is never easy,” said Kunte. “But this win has come at the right time for him; he has had a disappointing time over the last few months. It could also help him get invitations for stronger tournaments.”