Can India expect another ‘Delightful Double’ as it did in 2008 when Abhijeet Gupta won the World Junior Chess Championship and DronavalliHarika clinched the World junior Girls title at the same venue? Incidentally this was the first and only time in the history of the game that two players from the same country had won the title, not even the then mighty and chess savvy erstwhile USSR having been able to achieve this feat.
Even as Pune is all geared to host the World Junior Chess championship at Hotel Hyatt from 5th October to 20th October, Indian chess enthusiasts and followers staunchly believe that an ‘encore’ may well be on the cards. GM ViditSantoshGujrathi who has had a phenomenal run for the last one year in International chess starts as a strong contender and is one of the five super Grandmasters (Rating above 2600) in fray. Padmini Rout, the most medal- decorated girl in Age Categories will also be a hot favourite, especially after a glittering gold medal performance in the recently concluded World Chess Olympiad. Incidentally Padmini is also amongst the top five highest rated girls in fray.
The event spread over 15 days will comprise of 13 rounds with more than 200 players from 45 countries confirming their participation. The Government of Maharashtra and Life Corporation of India (LIC) are the main sponsors while ONGC, Amanora, Jain Irrigation and Everstone are the other sponsors.The venue is Hotel Hyatt and the games are scheduled at15.00 hrs from 6th October.
Vladimir Fedoseev (2661) Of Russia currently ranked 88th in the World starts as the top seed followed by Robin van Kampen (2641) of Netherlands, Yi Wei (2641) of China, Vidit (2635) and Jorge Cori (2612) of Peru. It is expected to be a close contest amongst these super GMs. The other Indians to be watched out for in this section are GM AnkitRajpara, GM Sahej Grover, IM AravindhChithambaram, IM ShardulGagare, IM MuraliKarthikeyan, IM R Prasanna to name a few.
In the Girls section WGM Alexandra Goryachkina (2430), the defending Champion is the highest rated player in fray and is followed by MeriArabidze (2409). Interestingly there is a wide rating gap between these two girls as other strong contenders who are rated 2300 plus. Padmini after an indifferent showing in the NationalWomen’s Challenger has lost a few precious points.
Right from the time that an 18-year-old ViswanathanAnand opened up the gates wide, leading to this title in 1987, a steady stream of inspired Indians have been entering in. Koneru Humpy then clinched the Girls title at Greece after a big gap, in 2001. PentalaHarikrishna was a proud Indian winning in front of his home crowd at Kochi in 2004. Abhijeet Gupta and Harika made it a memorable feat for India andSoumyaSwaminathan followed it up from Harikain2009.
Vidit has gained around 30 rating points from the recent Rating List released on October 1st which is a clear-cut indication of him gaining strength in the build up to this event. He recently won a strong Category-16 tournament in Armenia and would be definitely wanting to elevate his performance from the ‘Bronze’ winning one at the last edition to a ‘Golden’ one. “I am happy that the event is being conducted in Pune, as there is nothing better than home advantage and most importantly’ Food advantage” he cheekily grinned.
Orissa based Padmini Rout is also very upbeat on the event and confessed’ I really love Pune and am looking forward to putting up a good show here. It has been a lucky venue for me as I won the ‘Best women player” award in both editions of the Maharashtra Chess League (MCL) and the organization of chess events in Pune has always been excellent.”
Harikrishna who is currently ranked amongst the top 50 in World Ratings also sounded very positive about Indian prospects” I would not like to put any pressure on the contestants but I strongly believe that India does have a chance of a ‘Golden Double’ this time as both Vidit and Padmini are in good nick.”
Read the full article on Indian Sports News, here.