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  Opinion   Edit  23 Apr 2024  AA Edit | Chess cheer for India

AA Edit | Chess cheer for India

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 24, 2024, 12:07 am IST
Updated : Apr 24, 2024, 12:07 am IST

Indian chess prodigy D. Gukesh makes history as the youngest-ever challenger after victory in Candidates Chess tournament.

Grandmaster D. Gukesh of India during his Round 14 match against Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura of USA at the FIDE Candidates 2024 chess tournament, in Toronto, Canada, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (PTI Photo via FIDE/Michal Walusza)
 Grandmaster D. Gukesh of India during his Round 14 match against Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura of USA at the FIDE Candidates 2024 chess tournament, in Toronto, Canada, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (PTI Photo via FIDE/Michal Walusza)

King. Queen. Had there been a piece named ‘Prince’ in chess, it would have fit D. Gukesh, who is now waiting to be crowned. The 17-year-old became the toast of the nation after winning the Candidates Chess tournament to earn the right as the youngest ever challenger to the world title, bettering the record set by Russia’s legendary Garry Kasparov, who was 22 when he qualified for the top tie back in 1984.

The Indian will now take on Chinese champion Ding Liren for the highest title in chess, which prompted Kasparov to term it a “tectonic shift” in the game’s global order, which was once dominated by Russians.

Indeed it is, going by the wave of Grandmasters — 85 of them — India has produced in the 64-squares sport, thanks mainly to several academies in Chennai, which is considered the nursery of chess in the country.

“So we brought this upon ourselves,” Russian President Vladimir Putin had famously exclaimed in 2012 when Viswanathan Anand, after winning his fifth world title in Moscow, told him that he had learnt playing chess at the Tal Club run by the House of Soviet Culture in Chennai.

While Gukesh became the second Indian after Anand to win the Candidates, compatriots R. Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Gujrathi, too, did well to finish a creditable fifth and sixth, respectively. On the women’s side, Koneru Humpy and R. Vaishali (Praggnanandhaa’s sister) were tied for the second spot, which signalled an Indian high.

The future’s clearly black and white with more youngsters, mostly in their teens, taking up chess and shining bright — Gukesh was the third youngest in history and youngest Indian to earn the Grandmaster title at the age of 12. With the recent success of players from the country who are fast acquiring coveted titles in chess, one shouldn’t be surprised if that age mark is lowered in the near future. Check, mate.

Tags: international chess tournament, aa edit, d. gukesh