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I will cherish silver medal finish for long time: Abhijeet

Istanbul, Sep 10 (PTI)

Abhijeet Gupta's silver medal ended a long drought for Indians in the open section of Chess Olympiad, and the Grandmaster said he will cherish the memories of the triumph for a long time.

It was after a gap of 22 years – the last one being Dibyendu Barua's gold medal on board two in Novisad 1990 – that an Indian could win a medal for individual performance and it indeed elated BPCL employee Gupta, who is scaling one peak after another recently.

For the records, this was Gupta's 23rd medal representing India in various age-groups, Asian and Commonwealth championships. A remarkable feat indeed.

"This one is very special. I will cherish this for a long time. Chess is not an Olympic sport yet but to us, the Olympiad is the Olympic and winning a medal here is so very special," Gupta told PTI.

Gupta scored an excellent seven points out of nine games and had the second best performance on the fourth board behind Vladislav Tkachiev of France.

A total of 158 nations took part in the event this year. And as Chess is not an Olympic sport, the significance of the medal does not stand as tall back home.

"Yes, I know this, but it is significant for the chess world. I hope we get due recognition in some time with chess is a medal sport in Asian games," he said.

Closing in on the silver jubilee of medals, Gupta knows that chances of his getting treated the way medal winners in Olympics, are slim.

Yet, he could not be denied the glory after a fine performance. "It's not only me, Tania (Sachdev) also won a bronze, it's an Indian double and I am very happy for Tania too. We have the same trainer and we also work together many times."

The Indian women team finished fourth at the event.

Not only the medal, Gupta will also add valuable points to his present rating to further strengthen himself in the top 100 players of the world.

"Currently, I am exactly 100. I have been in top 100 a few months back but I hope after this performance, I will probably get used to it," Gupta noted after amassing 13 rating points from the Olympiad to take his rating to career best 2667 points.

Speaking about the team performance, Gupta was a little disappointed. It was a dismal show by the Indian men who finished 35th in overall standings starting as the 13th seed.

"It was like everyday we were hoping to win the match after the third round and every day we would make some mistake and it always ended in draws. This was a little pessimistic for us but in any case it's a thing of the past now," he said.

On being asked about his maiden appearance along-side Parimarjan Negi, Gupta was happy with the way things unfolded.

"Sasikiran, Negi and myself worked for some days in Delhi before the Olympiad. There was no special pressure playing here the first time as I have been facing similar opposition recently. I think in team events, the collective form is important along with individual brilliance."

About his own form, Gupta was as usual pragmatic.

"I was not playing too well here but things went my way in a couple of games," he said.
Signaling this as a start for the younger generation, Gupta hoped that Indians could soon make their way amongst the best.

"I think the day is not too far when we will be contenders for the medal as a team also. This time it did not happen but I am sure the way the younger guys keep us busy, we are bound to improve from here," he said with a wink.

About his plans for the future, he said it's going to be a busy season ahead.

"I play the Baku Open in ten days and after that I have to train for a couple of weeks in October, then some more tournaments. I have my hands full till the end of the year and I hope to be around 2700 soon as I can."


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