World class matches in Mahashtra

by Sagar Shah
6/1/2023 – From the 1st to the 6th of June 2023, as a part of the Maharashtra Chess Festival, two matches between world class players will take place in Nagpur, India. The first is between India's no.3 GM Vidit Gujrathi, who will take on the eight-time Russian Champion Peter Svidler. The second is between the top rated junior from the state Raunak Sadhwani and former World Championship Challenger Nigel Short. We have done extensive video interviews with the players.

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As a part of their Maharashtra Chess Festival 2023 the Maharashtra Chess Association officials have pulled off something truly phenomenal. They have organized five events:

  1. GM Open tournament (above 2000 Elo) - Rs. 2,500,000
  2. Below 2000 rating category tournament - Rs.1,000,000
  3. Below 1600 rating category tournament - Rs.1,000,000
  4. Vidit Gujrathi vs Peter Svidler - Rs.1,600,000
  5. Raunak Sadhwani vs Nigel Short - Rs.500,000

A total of Rs.6,600,000 will be spent as prize money at the Chess Festival. The Maharashtra Government is the main sponsor of the event, along with PNG Gadgil.

This is going to be a very closely contested encounter. Peter Svidler vs Vidit Gujrathi.

A few days ago, when the match was scheduled, it felt like Vidit was a clear favourite. His Elo is 2731 and Svidler's is 2683. At the same time, Vidit has been quite active and playing several tournaments, while Svidler has been relatively inactive.

However, things have changed in the last month or so. Vidit's performance at the Sharjah Masters 2023 wasn't great. He lost 19 Elo points, while Svidler won the very strong Sigeman & Co. 2023 tournament ahead of Gukesh and Arjun. Things look much more even now. Apart from the fact that he is in good form, Svidler is an absolute class act. He has been the Russian champion for a record eight times. He has played in three World Championship tournaments, in 2002, 2005 and 2007, and he has played in three Candidates tournaments, in 2013, 2014 and 2016. He has also won the Chess World Cup back in 2011. Peter had a peak rating of 2769 in 2013. It goes without saying that if Svidler brings forth his A game, it will be extremely difficult for Vidit to handle him. On the other hand, Vidit would be motivated because the tournament is happening in his home state – Maharashtra, and he will be the crowd favourite. Last time that happened, Vidit performed exceedingly well at the ChessBase India Originals Death Match against Anish Giri.

Raunak was born 12 years after Nigel fought for the highest title against Garry Kasparov.

It's the clash of generations here. 17-year-old Raunak Sadhwani takes on 57-year-old Nigel Short. It's also the first time in several decades that Nigel's rating has fallen down below 2600. But don't be fooled by numbers. Being a former World Championship challenger, three-time Commonwealth Champion and having a career high Elo of 2712, all that Nigel needs is some motivation. And facing one of the biggest talents in the world of chess is good enough motivation!

Raunak is surely a slight favourite in the match, given that he works very hard on chess and is a very strong rapid and blitz player. However, Nigel cannot be underestimated. If he manages to survive the first few games and get back into the groove, it would be an enjoyable match to follow. It would also provide Raunak with great experience that would definitely come in handy when he will play matches later on in his career.

The format of the matches is four classical games, four rapid games and eight blitz games. The point scoring system is three points for a win in the classical games, two points for a win in the rapid format and one point for the win in blitz. The time control for the classical game is 90 minutes + 30 minutes (after move 40) with 30 seconds of increment per move. The time control for Rapid is 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment and the time control for blitz is 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment. The event is FIDE rated.

Video interviews and Press conference

The press conference of both the matches

Vidit Gujrathi talks about taking on Peter Svidler in the match

Peter Svidler thinks that when it comes to openings, Vidit will surely have an edge!

"Playing Nigel Short will be a great experience for me" - Raunak Sadhwani

Nigel Short talks about how tough it is to face a young talent like Raunak Sadhwani

All photos of both matches can be found here

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.