Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta and Woman Grandmaster Tania Sachdev present a fine study in contrast.
Abhijeet, a product of orthodox upbringing in a small Rajasthan town of Bhilwara, has the street-fighter’s instinct. He is ruthless on the board and very docile off it.
Delhi girl Tania, a former Asian champion, has charmed the world with her flamboyant ways. She has a well-rounded personality, and is known to be very expressive. She certainly leads a lively life off the chess board.
Last week, the two played their parts while giving India an unprecedented two medals in the Chess Olympiad in Istanbul.
India, playing without spearheads Viswanathan Anand and K. Humpy, scripted its best-ever fourth place finish in the women’s section but its lone defeat in the open section, and that too in the final round, saw it tumbling to the 35th place.
On the brighter side, Abhijeet claimed an individual silver medal and Tania, a bronze. This was the first time India won two board prizes from a single edition. Dibyendu Barua’s gold in the 1990 Novi Sad Olympiad still remains unmatched. Rafiq Khan was the first Indian to win a medal — a silver — in 1980 at Malta.
Abhijeet was proud of his showing — seven points from nine rounds on the fourth board.
“I was particularly happy with the way I won against Georgia’s Tornike Sanikidze. Playing as many as six games with black meant I had to wait for my opponents to err.
“With a bit of luck, we could have finished way up. But, it was a great experience,” said the former World junior champion.
“This performance (of scoring nine points from 11 rounds) certainly stands alongside my Asian title,” declared Tania, with a glint of pride in her eyes.
“India missing the podium surely hurt. I am so proud to be part of this Indian performance.
“I am sure we are capable of being on the podium.”