After his thunderous performance in the 14th Dubai Open Chess Championship recently, 17-year-old Ankit Rajpara of Mehsana is set to become the youngest International Master (IM) of Gujarat.
Rajpara finished with 5 out of possible nine points to bag important 12.8 Elo ratings to go well beyond 2,400 and earn IM title. When the new ratings will be announced on May 1, Ankit will have 2,412 Elo to his credit.
This will make him second IM after Valay Parikh, and second top player from Gujarat behind GM Tejas Bakre. Top seed GM Baadur Jobava of Georgia won the Dubai International Blitz Tournament on April 20 at the Dubai Chess Club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“Yes I am on top of the world. The most satisfying part is that it wasn’t an ordinary tournament. The event pulled 36 Grandmasters (GMs) of which 15 were above 2,600 Elo ratings,” elated Ankit said.
During the nine-round battle, Ankit came across India’s top most players like SS Ganguly, third seed in the competition and Parimarjan Negi. Ankit made a winning start with against Sultan Ibrahim of UAE and then ran in to Ganguly.
“He is considered to be the second best in India behind Anand. So, I had a few nervous moments but managed to pull a draw,” said Ankit, who is supported by Adani Foundation.
Talking of his third round game against Negi, Ankit said “I was playing with black pieces. Negi played a new move 16.g3 which was not in my preparation and I was quite surprised. However, I kept my cool and got into a comfortable position after few accurate moves, he said.
He added, “The position got equal but he tried for more but ended up getting into inferior position. But because of time trouble, I allowed a perpetual check and the game was eventually drawn.”
However, he reckons his fifth round encounter against Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter as the best battle in the tournament. Having secured a full point against Marcos Marwin of Philipines, Ankit was riding high with confidence when he faced the Belgian, who once enjoyed 2,700 ratings and played with the likes of Gary Kasparov and V Anand. “During the game, I made one move, 19…Bxc5, which Nisipeanu appreciated, and termed it very ambitious. Such compliments are very encouraging,” said Rajpara, a student of VR Patel Commerce College, Mehsana.
Interestingly, Ankit was close to his first GM norm. He needed to finish with six points to achieve this feat. But unfortunately, this played on his mind. “I had to score 1.5 points from last round. But that captivated my mind and I made a time trouble mistake against Shyam Sundar in the eighth round, losing the tie and opportunity,” he lamented.