Right move, Dommaraju Gukesh becomes youngest to contest world title : The Tribune India

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Right move, Dommaraju Gukesh becomes youngest to contest world title

Right move, Dommaraju Gukesh becomes youngest to contest world title

D Gukesh (R) at a match against US’ Hikaru Nakamura at the FIDE Candidates tournament in Toronto. PTI



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 22

Dommaraju Gukesh, after winning the Candidates tournament in Toronto, thus earning the right to challenge the incumbent Ding Liren for the title of the world chess champion, seemed to behave as if winning the tournament was child’s play — and maybe it was, for he is only 17 years old. Gukesh has become the youngest player ever to win the Candidates tournament, and will become the youngest player to compete in the final of the World Championship when he would attempt to snatch Ding’s crown later this year.

Only halfway through

I am feeling quite good but the journey is only halfway through. D Gukesh

Gukesh, ranked No. 16 in the world, broke the record of Garry Kasparov, who was 22 when he qualified for the World Championship final in 1984.

Gukesh, the second Indian to reach the final of the World Championship after Viswanathan Anand, was mobbed by a crowd of fans who chanted ‘Gukesh, Gukesh’ shortly after winning the tournament, and greater adulation would follow him if he beats Ding in the final.

The Chennai teenager, who drew with American GM Hikaru Nakamura in the final round, had luck smiling on him in Toronto on Sunday night. A draw would not have been enough if American GM Fabiano Caruana had not made a fatal error from a dominant position against Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi. The draw between Caruana and Nepomniachtchi left them with 8.5 points each after 14 rounds; a draw, thus, was good enough for Gukesh, who was on 8.5 points after Round 13.

“I am feeling quite good but the journey is only halfway through,” Gukesh said, his sights on the final. Remarkably composed, as if it were just another day in his life, Gukesh played down beating Kasparov’s record. “I’m just happy about winning and don’t really care about records,” he said.

Gukesh was not the most high-profile player among the three Indians in the fray at the Montreal tournament — GM R Praggnanandhaa (18) was the player to watch out for. But Gukesh is no slouch on the board himself — at 12, he became the youngest ever Indian GM, missing the world record by just 17 days; and it was he who ended Anand’s 36-year run as India’s top-ranked player, last year. Magnus Carlsen, the world No. 1 who opted not to defend his title in 2023 after being world champion for a decade, did not rate Gukesh high, but was forced to eat his words on Sunday.

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