Never easy to face friends in crucial games: Gupta

DUBAI - Before going into the last game, India’s Parimarjan Negi required just a draw to win the Dubai Open Chess title, but his BPCL team-mate Abhijeet Gupta emerged the surprise winner after an emphatic display on Tuesday evening.

By Adur Pradeep

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Published: Fri 22 Apr 2011, 1:16 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:20 PM

“It is never easy to face friends in a crucial game. It is physiologically and mentally straining. Some how I managed to compose myself and at the same point I knew that Negi was half point ahead. He had needed only a draw to win the championship. I just kept on fighting and he was the first one to crack under pressure,” the champion told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

Abhijeet, the first Indian to win the Dubai Open title, finished with 7.5 points and bagged the winner’s cheque of $8,000.

The victory also helped him to move past the 2600 rating barrier for the first time in his career and is slated to be placed with 2620 points in the next list.

Abhijeet termed the seventh game — against Nidjat Mamedov of Azerbaijan — as the decisive one that turned the fortunes in his favour.

“I took a gamble in the seventh game and it paid off. After that luck favoured me or you can say I got a good pairing with two whites in the end, which I managed to convert into wins. I played the French defence in the seventh, which I don’t play so often. It was a risky choice from my point of view because If I lose there, it would have adversely affected my chances. I could have chosen some other simpler opening, but I took the risk and it paid off in the end,” he explained.

“In the beginning I was not playing so well and drew a couple of games. But after the rest day I managed to recover myself and I kept my focus on till the very end. I won six matches and drew three. If you are not losing any game in the tournament, you have the chance to be in the top three.

“It was my aim at the beginning of the tournament but later I realised that I am drawing too many games. So I had to change my strategy after the rest day.”

Explaining how he developed the passion for the game, the 21-year old from Rajasthan said: “At a very young age, my father introduced me to this game. I managed to win the very first tournament I played. Then I played my first nationals and I won that as well. In the beginning itself I used to like the game. If you are good at some thing, you want to do it more often.

Abhijeet, who became an International Master in 2005, received the Grand Master title three years later. He also bagged the Asian, Commonwealth and British Championship age-group titles.

“After this tourney, I am planning to play in France from May 1. After that I will take a break for a while.

He is also optimistic about the future of chess in India.

“There are many talented youngsters playing the game in India. We already have approximately 25 Grand Masters. The future of chess in India is really promising,” he added.

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