Vidit Gujrathi may be pardoned if he thought he wouldn’t be too busy after the coronavirus crisis forced him to cancel his flight tickets to Europe and the United States.
But, the strongest Indian chess player after Viswanathan Anand (World No. 15), Vidit (No. 23) has been playing one online event after the other from his home in Nashik.
On Saturday, the 25-year-old will take on around 20 players from across the world, at the same time on chess.com , in a fund-raising programme for India’s fight against the virus.
Anand, P. Harikrishna, B. Adhiban, Koneru Humpy and D. Harika will also be making their moves. The donations from the participants will go to the PM-CARES fund.
“I am really looking forward to the event and it is the first time I am giving a simultaneous exhibition online,” Vidit told The Hindu . “I have been part of such events physically, though. Two years ago, I had played against 60 in Rajasthan, and won all the games.”
His career in chess had begun in a simultaneous display by a Grandmaster. “I was seven when I played that event against Abhijit Kunte,” he said. “I had drawn that game and Kunte went on to become my coach.”
He said he was happy to be part of the chess.com event. “It is great that all the top six Indian players are joining for this noble cause,” he said. “I am told the response from the chess fans has been excellent.”
“I enjoyed it as well; I was giving commentary on my own live games,” he said. “I was also part of the commentary team for the recent Candidates tournament in Russia.”
Vidit’s aim is to be a participant in the next Candidates tournament. Given his consistency and age, he is probably India’s best bet to qualify for the Candidates, the winner of which will earn the right to challenge the World champion.
“That is my aim now; I think I will be peaking as a player in two years when the Candidates is held,” he said. “I also want to break into the world’s top 10.”