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D Gukesh, the teenage history maker, enlightens chess world with calm and composed play

D Gukesh, 17, came out on top in one of the most exciting editions of the FIDE Candidates in Toronto, holding his nerves and hiding his emotions like a seasoned GM.

D Gukesh Chess

D Gukesh became the youngest champion in the history of the FIDE Candidates on April 22, 2024. 


Deepanshu Jain

Published: 23 April 2024 1:19 PM GMT

Indian teenage chess prodigy, Gukesh Dommaraju, popularly known as D Gukesh, left the chess world shell-shocked with his FIDE Candidates title-winning performance in the elitest field of the sport. He became the youngest-ever champion of this prestigious tournament at 17.

He rewrote all the records of chess history and quashed the pre-tournament predictions by some of the top grandmasters from across the world after emerging victorious in one of the most exciting editions of the FIDE Candidates in recent times.

Gukesh ended the tournament with nine points out of the maximum 14, including five wins, eight draws and one loss, finishing half a point ahead of shrewd grandmasters like Hikaru Nakamura, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Fabiano Caruana.

What made his win more special is that three out of his five wins have come out with the black pieces.

His road to the qualification for the Candidates wasn't easy, as he was one of the two final names to secure entry into the eight-member event. He somehow sneaked past the higher-ranked Anish Giri of the Netherlands on the FIDE Circuit to confirm his place.

Gukesh never looked back since his qualification and set his eyes on his childhood dream, which was to become the world chess champion and now he is just one step away from turning his dream into reality.

Solid start to the tournament

Gukesh has an outstanding start to the Candidates, claiming 3.5 points in his first 5 matches which included two wins against fellow Indian R Praggnanandhaa and Nijat Abasov.

He got his first win in an all-Indian second-round clash against Pragg. It was not one of his best outings but after a few inaccuracies from Pragg, Gukesh easily manoeuvred the game.

He maintained his momentum in the third round against Ian and gained a good advantage out of the opening but could not convert the game and the match ended in a draw which made him regret, but it didn't hamper his game as he remained calm and composed, and he won against Nijat in the fifth round.

A roadblock in his journey came out in the seventh round when he had to gulp his first defeat to French grandmaster, Alireza Firouzja. This was very heartbreaking for him as he lost the match after getting a good advantage out of the opening, but just one mistake with the king in the end and he lost his f-pawn.

"This loss increased my confidence in winning the Candidates. Despite the loss, I felt I was playing my best chess in the tournament," Gukesh had said following his defeat. He also got a good break after this loss and worked on his lost points with his second, said the Polish GM Grzegorz Gajewski.

A Clinical finish

Gukesh rose to his best in the final rounds to grab 2.5 points in his final three games. Despite being a raw talent, he showed a very mature composure and played an almost perfect game in the most important final three games which included wins over Nijat and Alireza.

In the final round, he was up against Hikaru Nakamura, who had a great run in the tournament, and it was a must-win match for him but Gukesh didn't give him any chance and played a solid game all through with an accuracy of 98.3. On the other hand, Fabiano Caruana could not convert his match against Ian despite gaining a lead and their match ended in a draw, marking Gukesh's victory in the tournament.

Next Target: World Championship

Gukesh will now challenge the reigning world champion Ding Liren of China in the World Chess Championship. The Indian GM will aim to dethrone him from the top position and become the youngest world champion. The World Championship will be a very exciting encounter, especially after this tremendous showing of Gukesh at the Candidates.

Top players even think Gukesh will be the favourites at the tie because of the bad form of the Chinese post his World Championship triumph. The championship match is scheduled to be held in November-December 2024.

Gukesh's inspiring performances and impressive shows by other Indian youngsters like Praggnanandhaa and Arjun Erigaisi will inspire young chess fans and boost their yearning to choose chess as their favourite sport.

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