General Mar 3, 2021 | 2:12 PMby Colin McGourty

Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh & co. in Vidit Chess Tour Finals

The Vidit Chess Tour Finals start Thursday with Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa and Raunak Sadhwani, who all became grandmasters before the age of 14, among those fighting it out for 8 places in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Indian qualifier later this year. The 16 players in the knockout, to be played here on chess24, have already had to win their places through a series of 8 Swiss Opens that featured over 600 players. Indian Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi will commentate on the knockout for the chess24 India YouTube channel.

The pandemic has hit young chess players particularly hard, especially in India. The seemingly unstoppable wave of new talent was suddenly starved of the chance to travel Europe and terrorise open tournaments while picking up title norms and rating. On the other hand, Indian chess players have been part of a tremendous growth of chess on YouTube, and Vidit Gujrathi, Olympiad captain and a world top 25 player, has been at the forefront. Now he’s decided to support an event to give Indian players a chance to play some serious competitive chess.

The Vidit Chess Tour was open to all Indian players, with 8 qualifiers held from February 21-28. Each qualifier was a blitz (3+2) Swiss open from which only the top two qualified. It was an intense battle but 16 players made it through.

The average age of the 16 qualifiers is just 20, with half the field made up of teenagers. Some of them are sure to feature at the very top of world chess in the years to come.

ParticipantTitleRatingc24 UsernameAge
2Gupta AbhijeetGM2612beast31
3Praggnanandhaa RGM2608indiananand15
4Puranik AbhimanyuGM2584abhidabhi21
5Gukesh DGM2563chessfun6414
6Erigaisi ArjunGM2559Future_world_champ17
7Sadhwani RaunakGM2545raunaksadhwani200515
8Ghosh DiptayanGM2541diptayanchess22
9Visakh N RGM2516ChessDragon9921
10Harsha BharathakotiGM2509Harsha_B21
11Arjun KalyanIM2477Arjun200218
12Vishnu Prasanna. VGM2476VishnuPrasanna31
13Mitrabha GuhaIM2445Mitrabhaa19
14Pranesh MIM2437kingmaster202114
15Aronyak GhoshIM2436Aronyak17
16Sammed Jaykumar SheteIM2412sammedshete21

14th World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik, who has spent time coaching Indian kids, once commented:

I really believe in them, in my kids, I’m sure they’re going to be top players, but my dream would be for some of them to maybe become World Champion, or at least a challenger for World Champion. I think that I can judge professionally - it’s very difficult to explain exactly how you judge it - but I feel that the scale of talent of some of the kids is enough to be a very top player and maybe even World Champion in future. That’s my feeling. Then it’s about last, but not least, to realise your potential. That is something maybe more difficult than to have genius. 

The 16 players now compete in the knockout stage that starts Thursday at 19:00 IST (14:30 CET), where the time control will be 15+10 rapid, like the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. That’s no accident, as the immediate goal for all the players is to win their Last 16 matches and reach an Indian qualifier for the Tour which will be held later this year.

Each match from Thursday to Saturday consists of two rapid games followed, if tied, by Armageddon, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4 but a draw counts as a win for Black. Sunday’s final will be best-of-4 rapid games before possible Armageddon.

Every move of the matches will be broadcast live, with Vidit commentating for the chess24 YouTube channel. Don’t miss all the action from 19:00 IST (14:30 CET) here on chess24

See also:

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