Grandmaster and Commonwealth champion Abhijeet Gupta created history at the Hoogeveen International chess tournament by becoming the first player ever to win the title twice in a row in the FIDE Open that concluded in the Dutch hamlet.
Defending champion Abhijeet lived up to his top billing, and scored 7.5 points out of a possible nine to win the title solely ahead of second placed Grandmaster Sandipan Chanda.
It was an Indian sweep as the third and fourth places were bagged by GM M R Lalith Babu and GM M Shyam Sundar respectively.
Abhijeet got off to a roaring start with four victories on the trot and then played out a draw with Lalith Babu, who kept pace with the eventual winner for a long time.
In the sixth round, Abhijeet won against Migchiel De Jong while in the seventh another victory against compatriot S Nitin followed with relative ease.
Lalith made it look like a close race in offing between the two. In the sixth round Babu defeated Shyam Sundar while Dutch GM Sipke Ernst proved no match for the Indian in the seventh round.
With both on 6.5 points it looked like a dead heat in the offing but in came 15-year-old Lucas Van Foreest, a talented Dutchman who spoilt Lalith’s the party in the penultimate round. It was clear that Lalith over extended his chances in this game.
Abhijeet, meanwhile, drew with Sandipan and secured a half point lead going into the final round. Van Foreest yet again came up with a spirited effort but that was only enough for a draw in the end.
Sandipan handed Lalith another blow to be clear second.
Speaking about the event, Abhijeet singled out his game against Jan Werle as one of the better ones in the tournament.
"Generally the games were much better and I think the game against Werle, which was quite complicated, set the tone for me here," Abhijeet told PTI in a telephonic conversation.
The winner was also all praise for fellow Indians.
"This is quite impressive and probably never happened before in an International Open, it was a complete Indian domination right from the beginning, first me and Lalith and towards the end Sandipan played some really cool chess."
Among other Indians in the fray, young talent Rakesh Kumar Jena and Dushyant Sharma were quite impressive and stand to gain over 100 rating points apiece from here.
Jena also bagged an International Master norm from the tournament.
Results final round (Indians unless specified): Lucas Van Foreest (Ned, 6.5) drew with Abhijeet Gupta (7.5); Sandipan Chanda (7) beat M R Lalith Babu (6.5); Oleg Romanishin (Ukr, 6.5) beat Jan Werle (Ned, 5.5); M Shyam Sundar (6.5) beat Eesha Karavade (5.5); Rakesh Kumar Jena (6) drew with Sipke Ernst (Ned, 6); S Nitin (6) beat Demre Kerigen (Tur, 5); Erik Sparenberg (Ned, 4) lost to Dushyant Sharma (5).
Image: Abhijeet Gupta