Young Indian Chess Prodigy Gukesh D Makes History, Set to Challenge World Champion in 2024 Championship

Featured & Cover Young Indian Chess Prodigy Gukesh D Makes History Set to Challenge World Champion in 2024 Championship

Teenage chess sensation Gukesh Dommaraju, known as Gukesh D, clinched victory at the men’s Candidates Tournament held in Toronto, Canada, making history as the youngest player to achieve this feat. The 17-year-old grandmaster’s triumph paves the way for a potential showdown with current world champion Ding Liren of China at the upcoming 2024 World Chess Championship. Should Gukesh emerge victorious against Ding, who has faced recent struggles with his performance, he will shatter the longstanding record held by Garry Kasparov, becoming the youngest world champion at the age of 22.

Ranked 16th globally by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Gukesh secured his title with a comfortable draw against world number 3 Hikaru Nakamura, a seasoned player more than twice his age. Gukesh’s achievement positions him as the youngest contender ever to vie for the world chess championship, a milestone he acknowledged with mixed emotions, stating, “I was completely emotional but after the game I’m feeling quite good. I don’t really care about [being] the youngest and all these records, but it’s a nice thing to say.”

Gukesh’s success drew jubilant crowds of Indian fans outside his hotel, underscoring the celebration of yet another rising star in the nation’s chess scene. Expressing his anticipation for the forthcoming championship, Gukesh remarked, “I’m very excited to play in the world championship and really looking forward to all the preparations,” noting that his journey is “only halfway through.”

The previous youngest winner of a Candidates tournament was Russian prodigy Kasparov, who claimed victory at the age of 20 in 1984. Kasparov, renowned for his subsequent multiple world championships, commended Gukesh and the burgeoning influx of chess talent from Asia and Asian diaspora communities, particularly in nations like the United States and Britain. Reflecting on the significance of Gukesh’s achievement, Kasparov remarked, “The Indian earthquake in Toronto is the culmination of the shifting tectonic plates in the chess world.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also lauded Gukesh’s remarkable feat, praising his exceptional talent and dedication. Gukesh is poised to challenge Ding, the 31-year-old Chinese star who ascended to the world championship in 2023, succeeding Magnus Carlsen. The exact details regarding the date and venue of the 2024 World Chess Championship clash between Ding and Gukesh are yet to be disclosed.

In the women’s Challenger category, China’s Tan Zhongyi emerged victorious, earning the opportunity to contend for the world title against compatriot and reigning champion Ju Wenjun, with the specifics of the match also awaiting announcement. Meanwhile, India continues to showcase its wealth of young chess talent, with Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (R Praggnanandhaa), aged 18, making waves after his remarkable victory against Carlsen in 2022.

Affectionately known as “Pragg” among fans, he achieved the title of youngest international chess master at age 10, followed by becoming the world’s second-youngest grandmaster at 12. Notably, he and his sister, 22-year-old Rameshbabu Vaishali (R Vaishali), made history as the first sibling duo to attain grandmaster titles. Gukesh follows in the footsteps of legendary Indian player Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand, becoming the second Indian to compete in a world championship.

In a gesture of support, Anand expressed his pride in Gukesh’s performance, commending his resilience in navigating challenging situations. With these rising talents, India’s presence in the global chess arena continues to grow, fueled by a new generation of players poised to make their mark on the world stage.

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