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
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.
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.