Vidit Gujrathi: “Whenever I lost to Dad, it angered me to learn more!”

A couple of weeks back, Grandmaster Vidit Santosh Gujrathi won the Lake Sevan Tournament, a category 16 event with talented young Grandmasters competing, for the second time in his career. An affable person that he is, Vidit readily agreed for an interview with us and went on to talk about his victory, the Indian Chess Team, his first steps into the Chess world, and much more!


Shubham Kumthekar
: Hello Vidit! Hearty congratulations on winning the Lake Sevan tournament for the second time. How good does it feel?

Vidit Gujrathi: It feels great to win such a strong tournament. It had been a long time since I won an individual tournament, which made this win even more special.

SK: This tournament is traditionally characterized by a field of young and upcoming strong Grandmasters, which leads to meaty play more often than not. How do you approach a closed event like this, where every player is willing to fight it out?

VG: It is definitely more fun! I had some plan before the tournament, but as it always happens, you never completely follow it. During the drawing of lots, I understood that I will play 5 blacks and 4 whites, so it meant that I had to try and put pressure in every game.

SK: Which one of your games from Lake Sevan did you like the most? Can you tell us something about it?

VG: From a purely objective point of view, I was happy with my technique against Onischuk as it was my first win after a few draws. But, the game against Sevian from the penultimate round will definitely be the most memorable as it was a tough game that lasted 5.5 hours. A championship game which lasts this long, is for sure very stressful and nerve-racking 🙂

After a series of draws from Round 2 to 5, Vidit won a crucial game against Vladimir Onischuk in Round 6.
After a series of draws from Round 2 to 5, Vidit won a crucial game against Vladimir Onischuk in Round 6. (Source:

SK: Your results at the Lake Sevan tournaments have been noteworthy – an impressive victory in 2014, a respectable third place in 2015 and another victory this year. What is it that you like about the event or brings the best out of you?

VG: I always thought my chess playing style is more suited to Closed tournaments than Open events. Also, somehow I am more motivated to play when I play a strong GM every round.

SK: Now, let’s move to this picture! How did you end up here? 🙂

(Source: Lennart Ootes Twitter)

VG: I was seconding Anish for the Paris and Leuven legs of the Grand Chess Tour. (Editor: We did not probe Vidit more about his work with Anish due to the sensitivity of the topic.)

SK: You have been a key member of the Indian Chess team for quite some time now. The current team seems to be on a roll, with a historic Bronze at Olympiad 2014 and a memorable Gold at the recent Asian Nations Cup under its belt. What check-boxes are you guys ticking right?

VG: I think we, as a team, have developed a strong bond which helps us in team tournaments. We all, in the team, are good friends and get along very well. Also, our coach GM R B Ramesh always keeps us in good spirits.

The victorious Indian Team at the Asian Nations Cup 2016. (Source:
The victorious Indian Chess Team at the Asian Nations Cup 2016. (Source:

: Let’s backtrack. You hail from Nashik, a city not really known for producing titled players. How did your journey into the chess world begin and what challenges did you have to tackle?

VG: I started playing chess when I was about 7 years old. My dad taught me chess and whenever I lost to him, it angered me to learn more! There were a lot of challenges, but now it feels good that I got past them.

SK: You come across as a superbly prepared player. What is your approach to chess preparation?

VG: I feel I have improved my overall chess strength in the last few months. It is hard to exactly point out how I prepare, but recently I have been doing it in a more disciplined way.

SK: What, according to you, is the biggest achievement of your career so far?

VG: Winning two strong Category 16 tournaments. (Editor- Lake Sevan 2014 and Lake Sevan 2016)

Vidit had triumphed at the 2014 edition of Lake Sevan in convincing fashion. (Source:
Vidit had triumphed at the 2014 edition of Lake Sevan in convincing fashion. (Source:

: India is experiencing a ‘chess boom’ of sorts. However, what areas, in your opinion, need to be developed or improved upon?

VG: I think there have to be more opportunities. Few years ago, there used to be a lot of closed tournaments, which have completely stopped now. Closed tournaments really help in improving the game and I feel there is an urgent need for more such opportunities in India.


SK: Three things that you are generally found doing apart from Chess.

VG: Watch American TV shows, something related to technology, and as my friends say, I am with my phone.

SK: Your favourite cuisine.

VG: Italian

SK: If you could be an anime character for a day, who would you like to be?

VG: Tough question, I don’t like Anime anymore.

SK: If not a chess player, then …        

VG: Something like a detective!

SK: The most influential movie quote you have ever come across.

VG: It’s from Rocky.  “It ain’t about how hard you hit, but about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward!”

Leuven GCT Final Day: Carlsen takes it all!

After winning the Rapid section by staging a fantastic comeback, World Champion Magnus Carlsen continued his rich vein of form, winning the blitz event of the Leuven Grand Chess Tour 2016 in convincing style. As a result, Carlsen also emerged as the overall winner of the Leuven leg, thus taking home all the trophies that were up for grabs.

Magnus scored a total of 23 points in the Leuven leg, a whooping two and a half points more than the second placed Wesley So. The latter put on a solid performance – keeping his losses to minimum – and edged out Levon Aronian in the race for the second place. Levon Aronian finished sole third with 20 points.

Indian hope Vishy Anand, who led the table at the end of Day One, scored 19.5 points and had to contend himself with the fourth spot.

After two events of the Grand Chess Tour 2016, Magnus Carlsen is well and truly in command with a whooping 23 points. American Grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So are placed joint second with 17 points each.

Hasselbacken 05: Sethuraman, Adhiban amongst leaders

The 5th round of the Hasselbacken Open 2016 saw the top two games viz. Mareco-Almasi and Maze-Smirin end peacefully. This allowed a whole bunch of players to move into joint lead. After 5 rounds of play, as many as 9 players, including Former World Championship Candidate GM Dmitry Andreikin and Indian GMs Sethuraman and Adhiban, are in lead with 4.5/5.

The highlight of the day, however, was teenage American GM Samuel Sevian’s spectacular victory over GM Alexei Shirov with the black pieces. The Latvian GM, typical to his style, played an interesting Rook sacrifice on move 21. However, he was unable to follow it up in the best of ways, thus ending up quite worse. Nevertheless, the position on the board was extremely complicated and it took Sevian a stunning Rook sacrifice to finally end up on the winning side.

In the 6th round of the event, top-seed GM Andreikin will take on GM Sethuraman while GM Adhiban is paired against GM Landa.

Round 5 Results

Hasselbacken 04: Five Grandmasters in lead

The Hasselbacken Chess Open commenced on 30th April, 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. This 9-round swiss event, organized to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Stockholm Chess Society, has attracted more than 300 participants from all round the globe, who are fighting it out for the first prize of 50000 SEK. As many as 34 Grandmasters are participating in the event, with Former World Championship Candidate GM Dmitry Andreikin being the top seed.

After 4 rounds, a total of 5 Grandmasters – Mareco Sandro, Zoltan Almasi, Sebastien Maze, Ilia Smirin and Urkedal Frode – are in the lead with perfect scores of 4/4. Urkedal Frode, who was recently conferred with the title of Grandmaster, overcame the experienced Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran in Round 4.

Amongst Indians, GMs Adhiban, Sethuraman and Vidit Gujrathi have notched up 3.5 points and are joint second with 16 other players.

Round 4 Results

Norway Chess Final: The World Champion Triumphs!

The fourth edition of the Norway Chess Tournament was won by the local hero – World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen scored a total of 6 points from a possible 9 en route to his maiden Norway Chess title.

Going into the 9th and final round of the tournament, Carlsen and Aronian were tied for the first place with 5 points each. However, Carlsen succeeded in overcoming Eljanov in his final round game whilst Aronian could only manage a draw against Harikrishna. As such, Aronian had to settle for the runners-up spot.

Meanwhile, Harikrishna, the lone Indian in the fray, had a roller-coaster event and finished with a 50% score.

Round 9 Results

Carlsen 1-0 Eljanov
Harikrishna ½-½ Aronian
Grandelius ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Topalov ½-½ Kramnik
Li Chao ½-½ Giri

Final Standings

Rank Name Rating Score
1 Carlsen 2851 6
2 Aronian 2784 5.5
3 Vachier-Lagrave 2788 5
4 Topalov 2754 5
5 Kramnik 2801 5
6 Li Chao 2755 4.5
7 Harikrishna 2763 4.5
8 Giri 2790 4
9 Eljanov 2765 3
10 Grandelius 2649 2.5

Norway Chess 08: Aronian beats Carlsen, joins him in lead

The 8th and penultimate round of the Norway Chess Tournament 2016 led to a major change at the top of the rankings table. World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who was a whole point ahead of his nearest rivals, crucially went down against Levon Aronian. Courtesy of this result, Aronian and Carlsen go into the final round of the tournament as joint leaders.

Aronian’s victory over Carlsen was nothing but emphatic. Almost immediately after the opening, Carlsen went astray with a string of small inaccuracies. While Aronian was already firmly in the driver’s seat, Carlsen made a huge mistake on move 26, helping Aronian round off the matters pretty quickly.

Indian ace Pentala Harikrishna also had a tough day at the office. Hari, playing black, was unable to pose any problems for Kramnik, with the latter going on to win the game in his trademark positional style.

Meanwhile, Li Chao beat Pavel Eljanov en route to his first victory of the tournament.


Aronian 1-0 Carlsen
Kramnik 1-0 Harikrishna
Eljanov 0-1 Li Chao
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Topalov
Giri ½-½ Grandelius

Norway Chess 07: Carlsen takes a commanding lead

World Champion Magnus Carlsen scored an emphatic victory over World No.2 Vladimir Kramnik in the 7th round of the Norway Chess Tournament 2016. With this crucial win, Carlsen has taken a commanding one point lead over his nearest rivals.

The Carlsen-Kramnik battle took off with the Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Although the queens were swapped off pretty early, the game followed an interesting course, eventually leading to a complicated queenless middlegame. Around the 20 moves mark, Kramnik lost his way and made a couple of grave errors. Carlsen duly capitalized on these errors and went on to win a very convincing game.

In the only other decisive game of the day, Levon Aronian overcame Pavel Eljanov. This was Aronian’s first win of the tournament after having drawn his first six games.


Carlsen 1-0 Kramnik
Aronian 1-0 Eljanov
Harikrishna ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Topalov ½-½ Giri
Grandelius ½-½ Li Chao

Norway Chess 06: Hari beats Giri!

Pentala Harikrishna of India raced to his second consecutive win at the Norway Chess Tournament 2016 by outplaying the super-solid Anish Giri. Hari’s decision to opt for the French Defence in reply to Giri’s 1.e4 worked wonders as the Indian Grandmaster emerged with the more comfortable position out of the opening. The matters further worsened for Giri courtesy of his 26th move, which helped Hari secure the superior endgame. Sidestepping any possible tricks, Hari went on to convert his endgame advantage into a full point.

The other decisive game of the day was played between Pavel Eljanov and Nils Grandelius. The former scored his first victory of the tournament after Grandelius committed a huge blunder on move 35.

Meanwhile, World Champion Magnus Carlsen’s tough defence helped him escape with a draw against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. While Carlsen is currently in sole lead with 4/6, as many as 4 players – Vachier-Lagrave, Topalov, Harikrishna and Kramnik – are only half a point behind him.


Giri 0-1 Harikrishna
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Carlsen
Eljanov 1-0 Grandelius
Kramnik ½-½ Aronian
Li Chao ½-½ Topalov

Norway Chess 05: Harikrishna, Topalov get off the mark

Pentala Harikrishna and Veselin Topalov, who were having a quiet Norway Chess 2016 so far, scored their first wins by overcoming Li Chao and Nils Grandelius respectively. While Harikrishna’s win helped him get back to 50%, Topalov galloped to the joint-second spot on the leaderboard.

Harikrishna’s victory was an enterprising one. Just when it seemed Li Chao’s position was getting comfortable, Hari unleashed a couple of deadly blows on moves 24 and 25. After this, Li Chao found the going tough, with the game ending in a resounding victory for Hari on move 42.

Meanwhile, the central game of the day between Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri ended in a draw. As such, Carlsen is still in sole lead with 3.5/5, half a point ahead of Vachier-Lagrave, Topalov and Kramnik.

Harikrishna 1-0 Li Chao
Topalov 1-0 Grandelius
Carlsen ½-½ Giri
Kramnik ½-½ Eljanov
Aronian ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave

Norway Chess 01-03: Carlsen takes early lead

The 4th edition of Altibox Norway Chess Tournament commenced on the 19th of April, 2016. A total of 10 players form the field of this elite event, which boasts of an average rating of 2770. Local star and World Champion Magnus Carlsen is the top seed.

Round 1

The tournament took off on an exciting note with 3 of the 5 encounters ending decisively. Magnus Carlsen registered a thumping win over Pentala Harikrishna while Kramnik and Giri also made a fine start to the event with victories over Grandelius and Eljanov respectively.

Round 2

The second round was a relatively subdued affair. The only decisive game of the day was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s victory over Anish Giri with the black pieces. MVL, playing his favourite Najdorf Sicilian, overcame Giri convincingly in a mere 28 moves. Meanwhile,the Topalov-Carlsen battle resulted in a draw.

Round 3

The third round once again saw four draws and a solitary victory. Grandelius’s bold opening play against the World Champion backfired as Magnus Carlsen went on to win the game with relative ease.

As such, Magnus Carlsen is currently in lead with 2.5/3, half a point ahead of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Vladimir Kramnik. Indian hope Harikrishna has had a quiet tournament so far with a total score of 1/3.