A rousing welcome for Gukesh

A day after he became the world’s second youngest Grandmaster (GM), D. Gukesh arrived home to a rousing welcome on Thursday.

D. Gukesh gets a warm welcome at the Anna International Airport in Chennai on Thursday.   -  S. Prasanna Venkatesan

A day after he became the world’s second youngest Grandmaster (GM), D. Gukesh arrived home to a rousing welcome on Thursday.

He achieved his third and final GM norm defeating Dinesh Sharma in the ninth round of the Delhi International Open Grand Masters chess tournament. At 12 years, seven months and 17 days, Gukesh missed out on Russian Sergey Karjakin’s record of becoming the youngest GM in the history of chess by only 17 days. However, he eclipsed R. Praggnanandhaa's record, set in June last year, and became India's youngest Grandmaster.

READ: Gukesh becomes India's youngest Grandmaster

Gukesh said he aimed to break the Russian's record and thus had to handle extra pressure.

His coach Vishnu Prasad, under whom the player has been training for the past one and a half years, said his ward found that pressure "a bit too much to handle" in the end. “Definitely that pressure (to break the Russian's record) was there at some level. Everyone kept talking about it. I think he managed it decently. It was also a motivation. But towards the end, I think it became a bit too much to handle.

“To eliminate pressure is very difficult; it's better to know how to handle it, something he does really well.”

He said Gukesh had the "psychology to improve and progress quickly", something that sets him apart from the other players. “When he came to me, I knew he was a special talent. But this kind of record is not easy. I knew he would become a great player. But speed depends on having a good psychology; like, how calm you can be in tense moments. By speed, I mean improving and progressing quickly. If there's a pressure situation, like if there's this last round he has to win to get the norm, he plays well in those kind of situations."

Gukesh's father Rajinikanth, a doctor, said he had initially thought of introducing his son to tennis. "But when he was starting out in chess, Praggnanandhaa, having achieved big at a young age, was a big inspiration for us (he and his wife). We thought, may be, our child can also do it. Today we are very happy that he's on par with Praggnanandhaa."