Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi from Nashik, Maharashtra won the Tata Steel Chess Challengers 2018 which was held in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands from the 12th – 28th of January 2018. This victory ensured that Vidit qualified for the Tata Steel Masters 2019 where several top players including World Champion Magnus Carlsen will be participating.

With a rating of 2718, Vidit started as the first seed and had the onus to stay true to his top billing. His main competitors before the start of the event were Bassem Amin (2693) from Egypt, Michal Krasenkow (2671) from Poland and Anton Korobov (2654) from Ukraine.

There were also many young talents like World Junior Champion Aryan Tari (2599) from Norway, Jeffery Xiong (2634) from USA and Jorden van Foreest (2629) from the Netherlands. Vidit scored 9.0/13 with five wins and eight draws to remain unbeaten and finish first.

It was a tense finish between Gujrathi and his Ukrainian opponent Korobov until round 11 when both of them where tied on 7.5 points. But Vidit scored 1.5 points in the last two rounds, while Korobov could just score 0.5/2. Thus, the Indian GM won the tournament with one extra point. Vidit gained 5.3 Elo points from this event and now has his live Elo rating up to 2723. This brings him on the 30th spot on the world rankings.

“This victory means a lot to me,” said Vidit, “because I qualify for the Masters section in 2019.” Only the winner of the Challengers section gets a spot in the masters. “The pressure as the top seed was immense, but I am glad that I managed to prove myself. I am looking forward to playing against players like Carlsen, Anand, Caruana, So, Giri and others in 2019.”

Talking about the next steps in his career, the 23-year-old from Nashik said, “I want to continue working hard on chess and aim for the World Championship title in the years to come. For this I would need to play more against the best players in the world. I am hoping that this performance will get me invitations to the top Round Robin events in 2018.”

Vidit is currently ranked number three in India behind Viswanathan Anand and Pentala Harikrishna. He is currently employed with ONGC, but has no sponsor. “Things are falling in the right place in my career. Last year I broke into 2700 and was the fourth Indian to do so (after Anand, Sasikiran and Harikrishna) and the year 2018 has begun on a positive note. I am sure things will only get better from here on.”