Fighting off his last round blues, Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta won the Dubai International open chess tournament on Tuesday and the Indian said it was a "decent comeback" after a series of recent final round hiccups. The title also took Abhijeet past the 2600 rating barrier - a feat achieved only by a few Indians.
"This was a decent comeback especially as I have been spoiling tournaments in the last round a few times recently," Abhijeet told PTI.
Indeed, this had become a familiar pattern for the last five months. Abhijeet was fighting for the shared first place in back to back events at London and later at Groningen in Holland late last year and he lost both the games.
In the Parsvnath open in January he was again fighting for the shared first place and went down to Ni Hua of China. Soon after at Chennai he lost the last game against Sahaj Grover and then at Reykjavik open in Iceland recently he got a draw with Ahmed Adly of Egypt and missed out on finishing shared first.
"I have not been winning even a decent prize recently and this was kind of frustrating for the last six months, thankfully came the National team championship that was a confidence booster as I won all the seven games and got back some of the rating points," said Abhijeet, the 2008 World Junior Champion.
That was in February and he has been on a comeback trail since then.
Asked if he had a hunch that he would win this tournament Abhijeet said, "I think at the back of our minds we (chess players) want to win all the tournaments. So this might have been a passing thought in my mind as well, but off-course this was certainly one of the strongest ever Asian open tournament and the thought alone is never enough."
It was a sedate start by the BPCL employee conceding two draws in first three games itself. It was only a late 3/3 spurt that gave him the title.
"In these events, I have learnt that the last few rounds are more important than the first few. In here I won the last three and that was enough to edge out everyone," the Indian said.
Asked what he did coming into the tournament, Abhijeet was all smiles.
"Guess what? We chilled. I and my trainer decided that we will take one game at a time. We discussed some chess in four days that we were supposed to be working but largely it was fun, relaxing," Abhijeet said before quickly laughing off.
"And it was a bad start here, so no pressure, if I count the last round (in Dubai against office-mate Parimarjan Negi) out, I think I have been my strongest opponent in the last six months."
Abhijeet goes for an advanced training in Europe from here and will then be taking part in the Metz International tournament in France before coming back.