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Coach's Corner

'Gukesh came prepared': Coach Vishnu Prasanna on his ward's FIDE Candidates triumph

Vishnu Prasanna was just as ecstatic as he was tensed as Gukesh went into the 14th and final round.

Gukesh came prepared: Coach Vishnu Prasanna on his wards FIDE Candidates triumph

FILE PHOTO: With a draw against Hikaru Nakamura, Gukesh became the youngest winner of the FIDE Candidates. (Photo credit: FIDE)


Arjun Mylvahanan

Updated: 22 April 2024 12:28 PM GMT

Indian grandmaster D Gukesh made history in Toronto, Canada by winning the 2024 FIDE Candidates after 14 hard-fought rounds, becoming the youngest player ever to win the prestigious tournament at the age of 17.

Heading into the 14th and final round as the outright leader in the Open category, Gukesh could only manage a draw against Hikaru Nakumara but to his fortune, fellow title contenders Fabiano Carunara and Ian Nepomniachtchi also played out a draw resulting in Gukesh being declared the outright winner of Candidates 2024.

He has now earned the right to challenge current world champion Ding Liren of China after accumulating an impressive 9 points out of a possible 14.

Previously, legendary GM Vishwanathan Anand won the Candidates in 2014, making Gukesh only the second Indian to achieve this feat.

Grandmaster at just 12 years old, Gukesh now adds this to his already impressive track record at just 17.

Although his Polish coach, GM Grzegorz Gajewski was with him in Canada, his Indian coach, GM Vishnu Prasanna, hailing from Chennai, was just as ecstatic as he was tensed.

"Today was a very tense day. The other contender, Fabiano Carunaro was also in a good position. We did not know if it would be a tie-break or he would end up as an outright winner," Vishnu told The Bridge.

"The last two days have been tense. You do not want to miss such chances when they come around, hence the tension. But I am very happy he did it," he added.

According to Vishnu, preparation was key to the success of the teenage sensation. "We knew who the opponents are and since we knew them, we specifically became prepared for them," he remarked.

He also had a word of praise for Gukesh's Polish coach Gajewski. "Gukesh has a huge team. His Polish coach Gajewski is with him in Canada and they have done an excellent job," Vishnu said.

When the tournament began, no one thought of Gukesh as a probable champion. But against all odds, Gukesh has made it big and GM Vishnu thinks it is his unrelenting focus and his remarkable ability to handle pressure right from a small age that has led him here.

"This is the first time he has separated himself as a big sensation. For one, he is very determined and focused. The level here was too big and he has stood out. Only Vishy (Vishwanathan Anand) has done it before from India and now Gukesh," Vishnu stated.

"What sets Gukesh apart from others is his absolute focus. Right from age 11, he has been under pressure but he enjoys it which is a good thing," he added.

The journey, for Gukesh has just begun. Vishnu reckons there are two main goals that Gukesh has already set his eyes on. "The first goal is to get closer to world no.1 Magnus Carlson. Gukesh is currently world no.6," he added.

"The second goal is the championship match against Ding Liren that will happen at the end of the year," Vishnu concluded.

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