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Sunday, April 14, 2024

India takes the top spot in the FIDE Grand Swiss Open

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has praised Vidit Gujrathi and Vaishali for their outstanding victories in FIDE Grand Swiss Open.

In a X post, the Prime Minister said;

“A moment of immense pride as India takes the top spot in the FIDE Grand Swiss Open. Congratulations to @viditchess and @chessVaishali for their outstanding victories, and for securing their spots in the prestigious 2024 Candidates, to be held in Toronto. This is yet another instance of Indian prowess in Chess. India is truly elated.” 

Amidst the fervour surrounding India’s crushing victory over its opponents in the ongoing cricket World Cup at home, one could have easily forgotten about the events taking on at small island in the Irish Sea named the Isle of Man. But we ought not to.

For on November 5, India achieved one of its finest chess moments when it won both championships at the Grand Swiss competition. Vidit Gujrathi won the open division, and R. Vaishali took home the women’s division. As a result, both players were qualified for the Candidates tournament, which served as a warm-up for the World Chess Championship match.

The world’s top talents were drawn to Grand Swiss because to the availability of qualification spots, which were two slots each from each tournament. Neither Vaishali nor Gujrathi were considered higher seeds.

Gujrathi was seeded 15th in the open tournament, behind the likes of Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Alireza Firouzja and fellow Indians D. Gukesh and R. Praggnanandhaa. In the women’s section, Vaishali was seeded 12th; her Elo rating of 2448 points 110 below top seed Aleksandra Goryachkina.

Vaishali needed only a draw in the final round against Batkhuyag Mongontuul. She got that without too much trouble. The 22-year-old from Chennai finished with 8.5 points— a clear first— half-a-point ahead of Anna Muzychuk.

But with a tie for first place possible and his tie-break score not being the greatest among the three leaders, Gujrathi needed to win his final round game and the other top boards needed to finish as well.

Alexandr Predke lost to Gujrathi, while Arjun Eriagaisi held Ken Nakamura to a draw and Anish Giri overcame Andrey Esipenko. Gujrathi, with 8.5 points, so emerged victorious.

The 29-year-old from Nashik also made history by becoming the second Indian to qualify for the Candidates of the next year. Praggnanandhaa’s World Cup runner-up position had already secured his ticket to Toronto. For his family, the achievement of his older sister Vaishali increased their joy.

The winner of the open Candidates tournament will earn the right to challenge Ding Liren for the World title, while the women’s champion will take on Ju Wenjun.

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