Making his debut on the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) as a wild-card entry, Vidit Gujrathi has said that he feels no pressure being part of a strong field of opponents. The India No.3 is brimming with confidence after claiming silver with his Czech team Navy Bor in the European Club Cup in Montenegro.
Finally, India is hosting a major chess event, breaking away from the traditional method to have the most prestigious chess competition in Europe. And 25-year-old Vidit, who hails from Nashik, is happy to be back in Kolkata and is excited to play against some of the world’s best.
“I am really excited to be part of this strong field. However, as a wild card, I will be an underdog, at least on paper… I won't feel any extra pressure as there will be no expectations. I hope to play with a free mind,” Vidit told TOI.
(On playing Magnus Carlsen) It will be interesting. I have played two classical games against him and drew both. However, I lost to him in a rapid game in 2015. So I am excited,” he said.
Although he is personally not quite used to the tournament’s format, Vidit is pleased with the fact that Indians will now have the prospect of watching the likes of Carlsen and Vishwanathan Anand playing in front of them.
“I need not make any comment as the names speak of the level of competition expected. I love the format, especially the blitz one. The only thing is that I am not quite used to the time control of this meet. I am mostly used to time increment and not time delay which will be followed here. The top players get to play this format and will be conversant with it, but it's relatively new for Hari (P Harikrishna) and me,” Vidit said.
"Of course. I feel this was long overdue. India has become a chess superpower. It's good that people of Asia and Africa are now getting to see top-level chess. I thank the organisers and hope this trend continues. It's not often that you get to see Carlsen or Anand playing in your city… Good for the game to spread further,” he added.
Vidit won the Biel blitz meet in July and also made the quarterfinals of Fisher Random meet. He also finished 12th in this year's Grand Swiss Isle of Man event — the best by an Indian. On the tour, however, he is set to play against Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri's second, under whom he spent a long time.
“I think it will be a bit awkward and fun as well (laughs). I worked closely with him and used to know almost all his moves then. I must confess that my game also improved a lot due to this experience. But we have moved on. I can say there will be some friendly banter during the clash,” Vidit added.