Chess Leisure

Success Gukesh

  • June 23, 2024
  • 7 min read
Success Gukesh

Gukesh Dommaraju succeeded in winning the recent FIDE Candidates Tournament and played history into the top pocket of his winner’s jacket for the whole world to see for eternity! The Indian resolve following Anand’s achievement in securing the World Chess title away from the Russians, and to build a national team strong enough to compete at the topmost echelons of world chess, has come home to roost, probably earlier than expected. The 17-year-old, as one of the triumvirate Indian representatives in this recent clash, has had a meteoric rise in the game and it is only right to look at some of his successes since it is no fluke that he came out on top in Toronto. Indeed, notable older players who had won through to this contest, such as Fabiano Caruana (USA) and Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), were in contention right up to the wire and had been two of the top favourites of the older generation to win the competition. As it happened, either of them could have forced a tie-break if they had won their last game, which coincidentally was against each other! Their game ended in a marathon-long draw where neither could get the better of the other, and this gave the youngster a winning result for the tournament, a half-point lead. The young prodigy broke Kasparov’s record of 1984 when he was 20, and his only loss in Toronto was to Alireza Firouzja in round 6. The latter was, however, later in the Masters World Cup Tour compensated with a victory as the overall winner, beating Carlsen in the grand final even though having lost in the Division 1 section to the very same Carlsen.

The lead-up to Gukesh’s dramatic and historic win at the recent Candidates tournament was signposted over the interim years, from his formative years starting in 2013 (b.2006), playing one hour, three days per week, morphing into playing tournaments at weekends after his chess tutor acknowledged his ‘good performance’. He showed exemplary prowess, winning many top-flight tournaments. I give some of these successes, such as winning the under-9 years of age section of the Asian Schools Championship, 2015; the World Youth Chess Championships, under-12 category, 2018; won five gold medals at the 2018 Asian Youth Chess Championships in various categories; completed requirements and was awarded the title of International Master, March 2017 at the Cappelle-la-Grande Open; on 15th January 2019, aged 12 years 7 months 17 days, became the 2nd youngest GM in history, to Sergey Karjakin’s 17 days betterment!; 2022, August, 44th Chess Olympiad, realised a perfect opening score of 8/8 wins, defeating the USA’s No.1 Fabiano Caruana in the process. He won the gold medal for top board for his team India-2.; August 2023, youngest player ever to reach an ELO rating of 2750; September 2023, officially passed Anand as the top-rated Indian player, the first time in 37 years that Anand was not in the top spot! The rest is world-breaking news as we now know it, and come 20th November to 15th December this year when Gukesh will face Ding Liren, the current World Champion, the history of chess as we now know it may be shattered yet again with the youngest player ever wearing the world crown! Go Gukesh!

Kasparov hailed Gukesh’s achievement by stating, ‘…an Indian earthquake in Toronto’, and, ‘…the children of Vishy Anand are on the loose!’ Vishy has mentored numbers of the youthful Indian players and is regarded by them as a great hero! Gukesh now has the greatest chance of beating Kasparov’s record set in 1985 by becoming the youngest World Champion when he won against Karpov. Whilst the underdog, Gukesh collected reams of highly delighted fans as he battled it out with rivals nearly double his age, closer to home and in the London League all the teams bar one, have been the underdogs for 22 years! Why this situation has been thus is entirely down to the strength of the Wood Green team who have been the annual winners since 2002! They have annually fielded a very strong professional team including seven GMs! Like Gukesh, as the young underdog, Hammersmith came up against them for their ‘annual mauling’ with only two IMs included and a young coterie and assortment of less experienced players, as mentioned in my last chess column. And, like Gukesh, Hammersmith prevailed, and Wood Green had the ignominy of losing their ‘first game in 22 years!’ James Moreby and Marco Gallana locked horns with GMs Johnathan Rowson and Neil McDonald! Gallana’s game in particular tempted McDonald into pawn grabbing ‘on the Queenside’ after which the former’s aggressive attack broke through the GM’s defences for a brilliant win! Despite the sensational win, Hammersmith will have to maintain their winning streak in order to wrestle the crown away from Wood Green who have already said they are going to up the ante with ‘full force players and no weaknesses or ground given for the future.

In Hindi speaking nations, Gukesh means virtue and is a Hindu boy’s name, with the lucky number 8 in Indian numerology signifying new beginnings and opportunities! Alongside Gukesh’s most recent and most important success in the Candidates tournament, he has a string of awards and accolades over his relatively short career that are really impressive. Chess has accelerated its profile globally in our new electronic age partly because it lends itself to geometric and mathematical analysis, which can be constructed and deconstructed in time and space, and its association with cerebral and glamorous amalgams (see The Queen’s Gambit). The global interest and business investments have further induced expansions for avenues of chess and one such entertaining prospect for us in this country is the resurrection of a version of the BBC television programme broadcast between 1976-1983 entitled, ‘The Master Game’. A new 8-part chess programme with the title, ‘Chess Masters’ has applicants come contenders playing each other in order to attain the winning crown! Although the production company Curve Media hasn’t released details for the format of the show, it seems that the World Chess Championship set for December this year may be a decisive and good time to release such a show?

The Challenge

Whilst the world chess fraternity has had its eyes and minds set firmly on the new escapades ventured into by the youth of India , and primarily the Gukesh phenomena, pretender to the crown, the ex world champion Carlsen has been busy too, slaying the world’s best chess players.
The 16th. Champions Chess Tour Classic is currently underway and Carlsen has won the top division spot, although his tussle in the final games against Vincent Keymer proved dramatic, with the last game of 4 with 3 draws being decisive in Carlsen’s favour.

The puzzle is taken from the final game where Carlsen as Black has played his king 45…Kc4. What was White’s response?

About Author

Barry Martin

Barry Martin as artist has his work in many collections including: the Tate, V&A Museum, City University, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds City Museum and many more. He is both a chess player and writer about chess. He has written books and articles about chess, and was the official artist for several World Championships including, Short v Kasparov and Kramnik v Kasparov.

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