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Winning is a habit for whizkid Vidit

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish  

Like most kids in the country chess was introduced to Vidit Santosh Gujrathi along with numerous household board games. And in the usual manner the kings, knights, bishops and the pawns came to dominate his pastime as he picked up chess for hobby. It was not until age nine that Vidit thought of playing the game at the competitive level. His passion and easy understanding of the intricacies of the 64 squares prompted his parents to inspire little Vidit into taking up chess as a serious pursuit.

The decision was timely as the young kid showed remarkable adaptability even as he made winning his habit. The progression to prominence was quite rapid as Vidit crossed the threshold of region, state and the country in quick time. By the time he turned 14 he was ruling the world. The young kid from little-known Nasik in Maharashtra became a well-known name as all started enquiring about the new World Youth champion, who had hit gold in Vietnam last year.

The chess whizkid is on the verge of crossing yet another milestone that of becoming one of the youngest IMs of the country. “I have completed all the requirements and my name will be up in the FIDE list in September,” says the 14-year-old who is now gunning for the next stage of accomplishment - that of gaining grandmaster norms.

Memorable first

“I will remember my first world the title forever. I led the field all through the tournament and that made winning the gold even more memorable,” Vidit says about his world title. Idolising the two great players of the world - Gary Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand - the young champion is trying to imbibe the discipline and panache that took his heroes to the top of the chess world. “I try to analyse their games and learn the moves that would help me develop my style,” Vidit said.

“I lost the title twice in the Asian youth championships despite finishing as a joint winner on both occasions. The world title has given back the confidence,” says the class X student of Fravashi Academy in Nasik.

Credit to teachers

The young champion gives the credit for his success to his teachers, especially IM Anup Deshmukh, IM Roktim Bandopadhyay and GM Alon Greenfeld of Israel. “I learned a lot under Anup sir in the initial years when I won my age group titles in the Nationals. I went to Nagpur to take coaching from him,” he said. “Later I was exposed to the coaching of Roktim Bandopadhyay but I made the best development under Alon Greenfeld. His coaching helped me take my ELO rating beyond 2300,” Vidit says, adding that a Sports Authority of India scholarship helped him get the training of the Israeli GM.

Apart from the SAI scholarship, which only helps in training under good coaches, Vidit is also getting a monthly stipend from ONGC, which covers a part of his costs. “Playing in tournament involves huge expenditure. More so if that is about participating in tournaments abroad. So far my parents have to bear the costs but I hope the sponsorship scenario will improve in future,” he said.

Vidit has a clear perception about his future. He wishes to have a career in technology and is preparing himself for admission in country’s premier institute, IIT. “Chess is close to my heart but I want to do well in studies too. I may have to take time off for a while in order to prepare for my board exams,” he says.

Whatever be his immediate objective, the soft-spoken champion is training himself to scale new heights in his chosen sport.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 11:50:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/Winning-is-a-habit-for-whizkid-Vidit/article16875439.ece

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