New Delhi: Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta has added another feather to his cap by retaining the Commonwealth Chess championship crown in Colombo, Sri Lanka, while International Master Tania Sachdev also finished with a gold medal.
In fact, all the medals in the senior category were won by the Indians players.
Grandmasters S L Narayanan and Deep Chakkravarthy got the silver and bronze medals respectively in the open section, while Mary Ann Gomes and Kiran Manisha Mohanty reached the podium in the women’s section.
Abhijeet started on a sedate note and conceded two draws to lower ranked opponents by the fourth round itself. Thereafter, it was a daunting task but the Bhilwara-born BPCL employee showed his true mettle as the championship progressed.
Coming in to the seventh round his senior namesake Abhijit Kunte found the going tough and then in the penultimate round M R Lalith Babu was outdone amidst complexities.
Although a draw might have been enough for the overall victory for Abhijeet in the last round, he did not know it at the start.
Up against talented Grandmaster Vaibhav Suri, Abhijeet employed the King’s Indian defense as black and went on to register a smooth victory. Tallying eight points out of a possible nine, Abhijeet finished a half point ahead of second placed Narayanan.
Tania played well throughout too and finished on seven points without losing a game — scoring five victories and four draws in all.
P V Nandhidhaa matched Tania on points and had the better tiebreak but according to the rules, she had registered for the junior category only.
Despite finishing a very impressive overall fourth in the event, Nandhidhaa had to be content with the gold medal in junior girls’ category.
“It was a slow start and I am obviously pleased with my effort towards the end,” Abhijeet said about his overall performance.
“Last year when I won it in Delhi I had started off with victories and was in lead right till the end, this time it was a catch-up act and I am pleased I was able to cope up with some pressure.”
For Tania it was a maiden Commonwealth gold, although she had won other medals at international events.
“It feels quite good to get the one gold that I had been really missing, hope to carry this form in the forthcoming chess Olympiad,” said Tania.