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Interview with Mr. Commonwealth Abhijeet Gupta

by Sagar Shah - 16 July 2017

Dubai Open, Reykjavik, Azgamov, Al Ain, Indian National A, World Juniors. Apart from being extremely strong tournaments, what else is it that they have in common? They have all been won by the Indian GM Abhijeet Gupta! Abhijeet has many tournament victories to his credit, and his resumé just became better as he won the Commonwealth title for a record fourth time, a few days ago in Delhi! No one else has won the Commonwealth Championship so many times. Thus it won't be wrong to endow upon him the title of Mr. Commonwealth! An interview and free download of the ChessBase India show.

An un"common" feat by GM Abhijeet Gupta!

If there is someone who deserves the sobriquet of Mr. Commonwealth, it has to be GM Abhijeet Gupta. In the last five years that this championship has been held, the lad from Delhi has won it four times! The 2017 title was his third consecutive victory. With four championships to his credit, he has surpassed the legendary GM Nigel Short who had won the title three times in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Commonwealth Champions 2017: Abhijeet Gupta and Swati Ghate.
After the tournament, ChessBase India caught up with Abhijeet and did a small interview. As always the grandmaster answers in a relaxed manner, in the same way that he plays chess!


Sagar Shah (SS): Four wins in five years! Are you getting tired of winning the Commonwealth Championships?

Abhijeet Gupta (AG): Four wins in five years definitely feels a lot, but you know how the life of a chess player works - you tend to lose much more than you win! (smiles) I don't know what happens to me during the Commonwealth. Perhaps it is the environment around me or something else. It just makes me feel so good, that playing chess becomes very easy! And to answer your question I never will get tired of winning events, but I am guessing that people are now tired of seeing the same face compete every time!

Always by his side! Abhijeet's coach IM Vishal Sareen has been one of his biggest strengths 
SS: Whom would you like to dedicate this victory to?

AG: I would like to dedicate this victory to my aunt Rita who recently passed away. You know I got this news just before Reykjavik Open 2017 and you won't believe how motivated I was to win there and dedicate that title to her. In the end I finished fourth in Iceland, but I am glad that I won the Commonwealth title.


SS: Which was your favourite game from the event?

AG: I think the game against Vaibhav was the cleanest. You hardly see Vaibhav losing and I managed to outplay him quite convincingly.

Plonking the knight on e5, and making simple but strong moves, Abhijeet was able to subdue Vaibhav Suri in the seventh round without too many difficulties
[Event "Commonwealth Chess-ch 2017"]
[Site "Delhi"]
[Date "2017.07.08"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Gupta, Abhijeet"]
[Black "Vaibhav, Suri"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E16"]
[WhiteElo "2625"]
[BlackElo "2558"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "93"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nbd2 $5 {This has been Abhijeet's way of
playing at this event. Now Nbd2 against the Bogo Indian is not so bad, but the
way Abhijeet follows it up is quite unambitious.} O-O 5. g3 (5. a3 {is the
main line. If Black takes on d2, then White gets the bishop pair, and if Be7,
then White follows it up with e4 taking space in the centre.}) 5... b6 6. Bg2
Bb7 7. O-O Be7 8. Re1 d5 {I had been taught (or I learnt from some book, I
don't exactly remember) that when White has his knight on d2, you can safely
go for d5, mainly because the white knight is best placed on c3 in such
positions to put pressure on Black's centre.} 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Ne5 c5 11. b3
Na6 (11... cxd4 12. Bb2 {recovers the pawn, but Black can go for} Bb4 $5 13.
Bxd4 (13. a3 Bc3 $17) 13... Ne4 $15 {And White is in some trouble.}) 12. Bb2
Re8 13. Rc1 Rc8 14. e3 {White just plays simple chess. The knight seems a tad
misplaced on a6 to me.} Qd6 15. Nd3 cxd4 16. Rxc8 Bxc8 (16... Rxc8 17. Bxd4 (
17. exd4 Nb4 18. Nxb4 Qxb4 $11 {I don't see why Black should be worse here.})
17... Nb4 18. Nxb4 Qxb4 19. Nf3 Ne4 $11 {Black's activity here is sufficient
to compensate for his isolated pawn on d5.}) 17. Bxd4 Bf5 18. Nf4 {Such
positions are quite pleasant for White to play against. The isolated pawn on
d5 is firmly blockaded and slowly and steadily White can increase the pressure.
} Nb4 19. Bxf6 Qxf6 $2 (19... Bxf6 20. Nxd5 $1 Nxd5 21. Nc4 Qe7 22. Bxd5 $14)
20. e4 $1 {This move is much stronger than what Vaibhav would have anticipated
it to be. The main reason being the rook on e8 is undefended. Hence the
pressure on the e-file attains serious proportions very quickly.} dxe4 21. Nxe4
{The queen is really short of squares.} Bxe4 (21... Qh6 22. Nd6 $18) 22. Rxe4 {
The knight on b4 is attacked.} Kf8 (22... a5 23. a3 $1 $18 {The knight has to
move and Nd5 will win the game.}) 23. Ne6+ $1 {Abhijeet is alert and wins the
queen.} (23. a3 {is also possible.} Nc6 24. Ne6+ Kg8 25. Qd7 Rb8 26. Qxc6 fxe6
27. b4 $16 {White is better, but what he played in the game was much stronger.}
) 23... fxe6 24. Rf4 Qxf4 25. gxf4 {This is a technical task of winning the
position, which Abhijeet executes to perfection.} Rd8 26. Qe2 Rd6 27. Bh3 Nd3
28. Qe4 Bf6 29. Bxe6 Nc5 30. Qa8+ Rd8 31. Qc6 Nxe6 32. Qxe6 Re8 33. Qd6+ Re7
34. Kg2 Kf7 35. Kg3 Kg8 36. Qd5+ Kf8 37. h4 Rc7 38. Qd6+ Re7 39. h5 h6 40. Kg4
{The white king is going to break the fortress.} Ke8 41. Qb8+ Kf7 42. Qc8 Re8
43. Qc4+ Kf8 44. Kf5 Re7 45. Kg6 Rd7 46. Qe6 Rc7 47. Qd6+ {After Re7, Qb8+
will win the a7 pawn. An excellent game of extremely high quality by Abhijeet.}


SS: What is this new unambitious way of Nbd2 that you are playing in the Catalan? Isn't it well known that Black has easier time equalizing with d5?

Playing Nbd2 in the Catalan is not a great idea, mainly because the knight is passive on d2. Abhijeet used the same setup to beat not only Vaibhav Suri, but also Alex Wohl in the last round. 

AG: Yes Sagar, you are absolutely right. Not only d5 there are other moves as well which equalize. But what can I say, everything is "=" these days! You just tend to pick what is more unpleasant for your opponent and if you see the game against Wohl in the last round, I was almost winning after 15 moves! So I guess it worked yet again!


SS: Was there a time after round 6 that you thought you might not win the tournament (when Vaibhav was in the lead)? 

AG: As long as I was in contention, I never felt I was out of it. Also I still had to face Vaibhav so it was still in my hands. One thing I would like to mention is that you don't think about the title before or during the event. You are just trying to win a game and let's say around penultimate day you tend to assess your chances and see how much risk you can take and so on. 

Abhijeet is well known in chess circles for his humour and light hearted attitude. However, one cannot win so many titles without the strong will power and determination that he possesses. 

SS: How do you plan to celebrate this win?

AG: I am simple guy who has a simple taste in this. Go out with family, have good food and life is sorted! (laughs)


SS: What are your next tournaments?
AG: Pardubice open is next, after that I will be taking part in the ChessMine Rapid and Blitz in Bengaluru and then the Abu Dhabi Open.

A role model for the players of the future generations. Abhijeet with under-10 gold medalist Raahil Mullick.

ChessBase India show with GM Abhijeet Gupta

When I was in Delhi for the chess camp with Jacob Aagaard, Abhijeet was also present there. He was going to play in the Dubai Open and had his flight from Delhi. This was a perfect opportunity to have a ChessBase India show with this strong grandmaster.


In the show that lasts for almost an hour, Abhijeet shows his games against Zoltan Almasi and Hrant Melkumyan and how he managed to outplay these two strong GMs with absolute ease. You will also see a guest appearance in the show by GM Jacob Aagaard.


You can download the show for free by clicking the buy now button. You will get the video files which you must open with your local ChessBase program:

For all those who are ChessBase Account premium members can stream the show for free from here.

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