He has the spark

NAGARA GOPAL

Vidit, the World under-14 champion, has already set his sights firmly on becoming a Grandmaster in 2009, writes V. V. Subrahmanyam.

He admires the genius Garry Kasparov. At first sight, Vidit S. Gujarathi, the 14-year-old boy wonder from Nashik, may not actually give one the impression that he is a chess player, for he moves around with the nonchalance that is often associated with teenagers. But Vidit, buoyed by his title-triumph in the World under-14 championship in Vietnam recently, has set his sights firmly on becoming a Grandmaster in 2009.

Vidit, who was in the company of big names of Indian chess like Super GM Krishnan Sasikiran, World No. 2 in women’s chess Koneru Humpy, GMs Neelotpal Das and Sandipan Chanda during the ONGC inter-active coaching camp in Hyderabad, is quite confident about his future. For someone who started dabbling in chess when he was only eight after watching his father Dr. Santosh Gujarathi play, the Nashik lad is already a big name in world age-group chess. His first National under-11 title in 2005 only spurred him to aim big.

Vidit has also won the National title in the under-13 section apart from the three silver medals in Asian age-group events. The gold medal he won at the Commonwealth under-12 championship instilled the belief in him that he could make it big in chess.

Vidit, who learnt the basics of chess from his first coach Prakash Golecha and later moved under the wings of Bhatwat Vinod, has been making steady progress in the circuit. With Roktim Bandopadhyay guiding him now, the Standard IX student of Fravashi Academy in Nashik can really aim big, thanks to ONGC scholarship.

Known for his strong repertoire in openings — his favourite is the Sicilian line — Vidit is aware that he has to work really hard on his middle and end-games to become a more feared player.

Vidit is quite happy that his mother, Dr. Nikita, who sacrificed her medical profession for her son’s chess career, is accompanying him on the circuit.

“That is one thing I badly look for, otherwise, I have no fears when I play any opponent,” he says with a boyish smile. Vidit is keen on becoming the first sporting hero from his family.

IM Lanka Ravi of ONGC, who organised the inter-active camp, says that Vidit has the spark in him to make it big. “He has a very sharp grasping power to pick the finer aspects of the game. And he is a very keen learner,” he says.

“I am enjoying this ONGC camp. This is a huge learning experience. A dream come true for me for very rarely players of my age group get a chance to train with someone like Sasikiran and Humpy. I hope to be a much better player after this camp,” says Vidit about his experience.

Vidit is keen on carving a niche for himself. Given the fact that he belongs to a rare breed of young talent that translates the abundance of promise into performance, Vidit can well be a household name in chess if he maintains his consistency at the highest level.