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23 Apr, 2024 03:04

Indian chess prodigy to challenge Chinese grandmaster for world title

Dommaraju Gukesh, who is just 17, has won the Candidates tournament to earn the right to take on current champion Ding Liren
Indian chess prodigy to challenge Chinese grandmaster for world title

India’s Dommaraju Gukesh won the FIDE candidates chess tournament in Toronto on Sunday and will move on to play for the world championship against China’s Ding Liren later this year.  

The Indian grandmaster, who is just 17 years of age, became the youngest ever to win the Candidates tournament after he held American Hikaru Nakamura to a draw in the final round, thus clinching victory in the nearly three-week-long tournament.  

If Gukesh is able to defeat Ding, he will become the youngest world champion in history. The current record holders – Magnus Carlsen from Norway and Garry Kasparov from Russia – were both 22 when they won the crown for the first time. 

Current world champion Ding is the highest-rated Chinese chess player in history and a three-time national champion. He won his first world championship last year by defeating Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi.  

Meanwhile, congratulations have started pouring in for the Indian prodigy. 

“India is exceptionally proud of Gukesh,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on X (formerly Twitter). “His outstanding performance and journey to the top inspires millions,” added the Indian leader. 

Anurag Thakur, India’s youth affairs and sports minister, said that Gukesh had reclaimed India’s place of honor in the world of chess with his historic triumph. “As you prepare to challenge the World Champion after this win, the entire country stands by you,” he posted on X. 

Celebrity Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar asserted that Gukesh’s journey to become world champion had already begun and vowed to be with him “at every move.” 

Gukesh, who hails from the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, became the country’s youngest grandmaster when he earned the title at 12 years, seven months, and 17 days. The title of youngest grandmaster in history is held by Abhimanyu ‘Abhi’ Mishra, an American chess prodigy of Indian origin, who secured the title at the age of 12 years, four months, and 25 days.  

Last year, Gukesh overtook five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand to become India’s top-ranked chess player. Anand, widely regarded as the greatest Indian player ever, had reigned as the country’s top-ranked player since 1987.  

Three Indians competed in the eight-player field at the Candidates tournament. In addition to Gukesh, the event featured 18-year old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, also from Tamil Nadu, and Vidit Gujrathi, who took fifth and sixth place, respectively. The previous two Candidates tournaments had been won by Nepomniachtchi.

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