Vidit is proof that what matters isn’t how fast you start your chess career, but where your eventual ceiling lies. Although he won the World U14 Championship, becoming an International Master at the same time, it took him until the age of 18 to become a grandmaster, with another four years required before he finally crossed the 2700 mark. He’s followed Vishy Anand and Pentala Hariskrishna to become one of the star Indian players, and in working with Anish Giri has got to see the level of preparation required to break into the absolute elite.
In January 2018 he won the Challengers section of the Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee, qualifying to play in the Masters supertournament in 2019. There he beat Vladimir Kramnik and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in consecutive rounds to finish 6th out of 14 players, just half a point behind his countryman Vishy Anand and a tie for 3rd place.
Later in 2019 Vidit won the traditional grandmaster tournament in Biel, ahead of Sam Shankland and Peter Leko. The Indian star looked certain to add another major tournament victory in the Prague Masters in February 2020, but ended up losing the final four games, two of them a playoff to Alireza Firouzja.
Vidit wins in 2019 in Biel, ahead of Sam Shankland and Peter Leko | photo: Simon Bohnenblust/Biel Chess Festival
When chess moved online later in 2020 Vidit took full advantage of the chess boom in India, establishing a popular YouTube channel. He was also the team captain of the Indian team that won gold medals in the Online Chess Olympiad, after a controversial finish had seen Russia win the final match after disconnections.
The strange circumstances did nothing to hamper the celebrations, with the Indian Prime Minister among those to offer congratulations.