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FIDE Grand Swiss: Vaishali, Vidit Gujrathi clinch titles, qualify for Candidates tournament

7 months ago 109

Isle of Man: R Vaishali and Vidit Gujrathi clinched the women’s and open category titles respectively in the FIDE Grand Swiss in a rare double for India on the world stage, with both players also qualifying for the prestigious Candidates tournament.

While Vaishali played out a draw with Batkhuyag Mungutuul of Mongolia in the 11th and final round to bag the women’s title on Sunday night, Vidit beat Alexandr Predke of Serbia to record his seventh victory in the event and take the top spot in open section.

Both Vaishali and Vidit ended with identical 8.5 points apiece and stayed a half point clear of nearest rivals.

Apart from a place in the Candidates to be played in April next year in Canada, Vaishali got richer by USD 25000 (Over Rs 20 Lakhs) while Vidit took home a whopping prize purse of USD 80000 (Over Rs 66 Lakhs).

The second place in the women’s section went to Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine who played out a draw with veteran Grandmaster Pia Cramling of Sweden.

The second woman player to make it to the Candidates was Tan Zhongyi who finished third. Muzychuk had already made the cut from the World Women’s Cup.

In the open section, Hikaru Nakamura played a rock-solid game to draw as black with India’s Arjun Erigaisi who ended a creditable fourth and remained unbeaten throughout the event.

Vaishali had her eyes trained for the gold and the Grandmaster title can wait for which she is shy of a few points.

The Chennai-based sister of Praggnanandhaa went for complexities yet again but met with stiff resistance from Mungutuul who is known to be a fierce opponent.

It was a Ruy Lopez opening wherein Vaishali yet again went for complexities and stood better according to the computer analysis. Optically, it looked like the Indian was dominating the proceedings but the advantage fizzled out very soon as Mungutuul opened up a file on the queen side. The game was drawn in just 34 moves.

Vaishali became the first Indian to win the Grand Swiss and will have her task cut out in the Candidates alongside India’s first woman Grandmaster — Koneru Humpy.

Humpy is likely to qualify by virtue of her high rating but the decision will be known only in January 2024.

For now it’s Vaishali all the way. A new star for India Chess is born after a gap of 12 long years. It was in 2011 that D Harika became the second Grandmaster from India.

If Vaishali was consistent, Vidit was extremely precise out of an innocuous Queen’s Gambit accepted game.

Playing white, the Nashik based 29-year-old traded the queens early and pressed for an advantage in the ensuing middle game.

Predke lost a pawn in a simple tactical melee and Vidit could have drawn to seal his berth in the Candidates as the other pursuer Andrey Esipenko of Russia was crushed by Anish Giri of Holland.

However, the Indian showed heart and went for the title instead, and was rewarded with success after 47 moves.

Important and Indian results of final round (Indians unless specified): Arjun Erigaisi (7.5) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 8); Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (8.5) beat Alexandr Predke (Srb, 7); Anish Giri (7.5) beat Andrey Esipenko (Fid, 7.5); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 7) drew with Vincent Keymer (Ger, 7.5); R Praggnanandhaa (7) bear Deac Bogdan-Daniel (Rou, 6.5); Aravindh Chithambaram (6) drew with Yu Yangyi (6); P Harikrishna (5.5) lost to Yilmaz Mustafa (Tur, 6.5); Ivan Saric (Srb, 6) drew with Nihal Sarin (6); S L Narayanan (6) drew with Maxim Matlakov (Fid, 6); Richard Rapport (Rou, 6) beat Aryan Chopra (5); Frederik Svane (Ger, 5.5) drew with Raunak Sadhwani (5.5); Leon Luke Mendonca (5.5) beat Jeffery Xiong (Usa, 4.5); D Gukesh (5) beat Varuzhan Akobian (Usa, 4); B Adhiban (4.5) drew with Jaime Santos Latasa (Esp, 4.5); Adam Kozak (Hun, 5) beat Murali Karthikeyan (4); Alexander Donchenko (Ger, 4) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (4). Women: Batkhuyag Munguntuul (Mgl, 7.5) drew with R Vaishali (8.5); Pia Cramling (Swe, 7) drew with Anna Muzychuk (Ukr, 8); Zhongyi Tan (Chn, 7.5) beat Gunay Mammadzada (Aze, 6); Aleksandra Goryachkina (Fid, 6) drew with D Harika (6); Monika Socko (Pol, 6.5) beat Tania Sachdev (5.5); Divya Deshmukh (6) beat Marsel Efroimski (Isr, 5); Vantika Agrawal (5.5) drew with Oliwia Kiolbasa (Pol, 5.5); Lina Nassr (Alg, 2) lost to B Savitha Shri (4.5).

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