With the 2014 Maharashtra Chess League just minutes away from being inaugurated, this year’s joint ‘Most Valued Player’ GM Vidit Gujrathi shares his experiences playing for Jalgaon Battlers in last year’s tournament. Don’t let his baby face fool you—he is as sharp with his answers as he is with his moves on the board!

Vidit Gujrathi playing a tense game in the 2013 edition of MCL

Playing a tense game in the 2013 edition of MCL

Paras: How did you end up as a player up for grabs in the first edition of the MCL? Did you contact the organisers or did they get in touch with you first?

Vidit: The idea of a chess league was floating around for quite a while and as they announced it via email to us, I immediately confirmed my participation.

Paras: What was the experience like playing in India’s first professional chess league? Did it feel like a 64-squared version of the IPL? 😛

Vidit: MCL is very different from the usual tournaments.Team events are usually always full of drama and tension, but here they even had interesting rules like flexible board order, which added to the fun.

Paras: For someone as young as you, how did it feel to be one of the two ‘Most Valued Players’ who fetched the largest bids of Rs. 120,000 in this year’s auction?

Vidit: I am glad that the team owners had faith in my chess abilities. Now certainly, I have to play more responsibly 🙂

Paras: Do you get much time before the matches begin, to train and bond as a team?

Vidit: Even though it’s a team event, we still play against individuals, so we train mostly at home itself.

Paras: What are your personal goals for MCL 2014 based on your performance last year?

Vidit: Last year my team went to the finals and unfortunately lost a very tense match.This time we plan to take it to the next level! 🙂

GM Vidit Gujrathi celebrating with his teammates

Celebrating with his teammates

Paras: Has the MCL changed people’s perception of chess players in India or does the event need more coverage for that to happen?

Vidit: MCL received good coverage last year and now it has already appeared on major chess news hubs like ChessBase and Chessdom, so clearly there is an upward and positive trend towards its publicity.