Vidit edges Arjun, wins 2023 Gashimov Memorial

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/12/2023 – After finishing the rapid section in shared second place, Vidit Gujrathi tied for first in the blitz to claim overall first place at the Gashimov Memorial. Vidit managed to keep his ½-point lead over Arjun Erigaisi by winning his final game in Gabala — Arjun also scored a full point in the 18th round of blitz and grabbed clear second place. Richard Rapport, who had struggled in the rapid but obtained as many points as Vidit in the blitz, finished third. | Photo: Mukhtar Ahmad

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Vidit and Rapport the strongest in blitz

Vidit Gujrathi entered the blitz section of the Gashimov Memorial in shared second place, at a 1-point distance from rapid winner Aydin Suleymanli.

The Indian star kicked off the day with two losses and a draw, and at that point his chances of getting overall victory seemed slim, as both Arjun Erigaisi and Jorden van Foreest had caught up with Suleymanli in the lead. Overtaking three players is surely more difficult than overtaking just one.

The 18-rounder was more a marathon than a sprint, though, and Vidit’s loss (against Ricahrd Rapport) in the third round turned out to be his last defeat of the event. In the next 15 games, the eventual winner collected 8 wins and 7 draws to end the blitz section with a remarkable 12/18 score.

Vidit, however, was not the only player who came from finishing the rapid section near the top of the standings and was performing well in the blitz. His compatriot Arjun Erigaisi, who shared second place with Vidit and Van Foreest in the rapid, was in fact the sole leader when there were only two rounds left to be played on Monday.

Arjun Erigaisi

Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Mukhtar Ahmad

In round 17, Arjun lost to an in-form Rapport while Vidit got the better of Suleymanli, which meant Vidit would enter the final round with a ½-point lead. Both Indian stars had the white pieces, with Arjun facing Suleymanli and Vidit facing Rauf Mamedov.

Vidit secured overall first place by beating Mamedov. The latter lost the thread in a queenless position, as his 26...Na5 allowed Vidit to immediately take the initiative.

Note that White’s bishop is blocked by his own pieces on the long diagonal. However, Vidit gained a couple of tempi with 27.Rg4 Kf6 28.Rf4+ Ke7 29.Ne5 to clear the way for his minor piece — while improving his rook and knight in the meantime!

Both diagrams shown above have the black pieces on the exact same squares, while White’s army has gained both activity and coordination.

Vidit further increased his positional advantage with 29...Ke8 30.Be4, and continued to show excellent technique until getting the all-important win 20 moves later.

A bit over a month ago, Vidit gained a spot in the 2024 Candidates Tournament by coming from behind to win the extremely strong FIDE Grand Swiss. Will the grandmaster from Nashik become the next challenger for the World Championship crown?

Final standings

Vugar Gashimov Memorial 2023

Final standings - Blitz

Rk. Name Rtg Pts.
1 Rapport, Richard 12
2 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 12
3 Erigaisi, Arjun 11,5
4 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 10
5 Radjabov, Teimour 10
6 Mamedov, Rauf 9,5
7 Suleymanli, Aydin 7,5
8 Van Foreest, Jorden 7
9 Abasov, Nijat 6
10 Gelfand, Boris 4,5

All games - Blitz

More about Vugar Gashimov


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.