From a Challenger to a Master!
I started as the top seed, I knew I was the favourite, yet sometimes it feels nice that you were able to prove yourself. Winning the Tata Steel Challengers 2018 is a milestone in my chess career. Mainly because I qualified for the Tata Steel Masters 2019. Here is a small review of the Tata Steel Challengers 2018.
Ecstatic! This word describes my feeling in an apt manner. I have qualified for major events before by coming in top 3 (Asian continental, world cup etc.) and by rating, but to win a tournament gives an added flavour of happiness! I was the top seed of the event and the only player who had an Elo of 2700+, but when you have experienced players like Bassem, Krasenkow, Korobov and talents like van Foreest, Xiong, Gordievsky, Tari, you know that the tournament is not going to be easy!
My win in round 3 against Bassem Amin was very critical. It was the longest game I played in the tournament and it was a very complicated one.
Tata Steel Challengers has always been a race between two players. In 2016 it was Adhiban and Dreev, in 2017 it was Gawain Jones and Markus Ragger and this time it was me and Anton Korobov. In fact, we were so neck and neck that it seemed as if we would go into the tiebreaks. However, my penultimate round win against Olga Girya proved to be the round where I managed to move ahead. I must say, my opening choice of playing the Dutch in the Netherlands still brings a smile!
If someone were to ask me which is my favourite game of the event. I would say, From an aesthetic point of view, I really like my king dance against Krasenkow!
I hadn't won a tournament in quite a while. I had good performances but winning a tournament is something different. It showed me that I am still capable of playing good chess of the highest quality!
I won the Tata Steel Challengers 2018 and I am proud of this fact. This would be the right time to thank the people who helped me achieve this. It would not have been possible without their support. My parents and my little sister Vedika who have stood like a rock by my side. My coaches who always ensure that I keep learning and improving. My team of seconds who put in their life and soul to ensure that I face the least problems on the board. Chessify team whose resources would be a good value addition for any ambitious player. And last but not the least my friends and fans who have been backing me all the time. I will never let you guys down!
I hope that this victory will be the start of some serious invitations into elite tournaments for me! Playing with the best players in the world is something that I crave for right now and I hope to get invited to a few before the Tata Steel Masters 2019 next year.