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India has a new no.2 - Vidit Gujrathi

by Sagar Shah - 02/02/2020

Pentala Harikrishna became India no.2 in October 2012. Until that point it was K. Sasikiran who was the next best player in India after Anand. It was a close battle between Hari and Sasi for nearly two years. But after 2014, Harikrishna's upward trend began, reaching as high as 2770 in December 2016. Now after seven years and four months, we have a new India no.2 and that is Vidit Gujrathi. Although Vidit had previously surpassed Hari in terms of live rating, this is the first time that the Nashik lad has become India no.2 on a published rating list. As on 1st of February 2020, Vidit with a rating of 2721, is eight Elo points ahead of Harikrishna who is on 2713. Vishy Anand still maintains the India no.1 spot with an Elo of 2755.

The year 2019 was a mixed one for Harikrishna. He began with a rating of 2730, played some solid chess throughout the year and reached 2748 by October. However, the last four months haven't been great as Hari systematically dropped Elo points, 35 of them and is now down to 2713 as on 1st of February 2020.

35 Elo points in four months at that level is a huge drop

Hari's best tournament of 2019 was definitely Shenzhen Masters where he beat strong opposition like Yu Yangyi (twice!), Ding Liren, Jakovenko, Richard Rapport | Photo: Shenzhen Masters 2019

Harikrishna's drop in rating meant that India has a new no.2 in the form of Vidit Gujrathi. This is the first time that Hari has slipped down from the no.2 spot on a published rating list in the last 7 years and 4 months. It was October 2012, when Harikrishna surpassed Sasikiran as the India no.2 and has maintained that spot ever since.

The new India no.2 Vidit Gujrathi | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Vidit's rating graph! You won't find a more stable worm!

It's not like Vidit didn't play much in the year 2019. He played 75 classical games in the year, which is quite a huge number. From an Elo of 2695 he went up to 2721 in the year. Vidit had two fine events in 2019.

Tata Steel Masters in 2019 where Vidit held his own against Carlsen and beat Kramnik and Mamedyarov, helped him gain 16 Elo points | Photo: Alina l'Ami

The Biel Masters 2019 was an important tournament where Vidit crushed the field and gained 13.3 Elo | Photo: Biel Masters 2019

This is the first time that India has 13 players above the rating of 2600 Elo! And the interesting thing to note: Five of them are born after 1998 - Nihal Sarin, S.L. Narayanan, Karthikeyan Murali, Aravindh Chithambaram and Praggnanandhaa. Note: Abhimanyu Puranik, born in 2000 is now on 2597 and just 3 Elo points away from breaking into 2600!

The brightest young stars of Indian chess Nihal Sarin (born in 2004) and Praggnanandhaa (born in 2005) are both now in the 2600+ zone | Photo: Amruta Mokal

World rankings:

Magnus is still world no. 1 with an Elo of 2862. Caruana is not too far away with 2842! Vishy Anand is world no. 15 with 2755.

Humpy has jumped to World no.3 ahead of Goryachkina and behind Hou Yigan and Ju Wenjun

Three Indians in the top junior list (under-20) - Nihal Sarin, Praggnanandhaa and Abhimanyu Puranik

Vaishali is world no. 10 in junior girls and Divya is world no.20

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