Who is D Gukesh, the youngest FIDE Candidates winner?

India’s youngest Grandmaster, Gukesh began his chess journey at seven, and is only the second Indian to qualify for a World Championship final after Viswanathan Anand.

Published : Apr 22, 2024 11:23 IST , CHENNAI - 3 MINS READ

D Gukesh, the 17-year-old Grandmaster (GM) from India, became the youngest winner of the FIDE Candidates tournament in Toronto on Monday. 

Finishing on top of the table with nine points in the eight-player competition, he became only the second Indian to qualify for a World Championship final after five-time World champion and his mentor at the WestBridge Anand Chess Academy, Viswanathan Anand. 

After holding Hikaru Nakamura to a draw in Round 14, his victory hinged on the result of the final game between Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia and top-seeded American Fabiano Caruana. Once it ended in a draw, Gukesh was guaranteed a spot in the World Chess Championship final against reigning champion, China’s Ding Liren.

Gukesh, who hails from Chennai, started his chess journey at the age of seven. Introduced to the game in school, he became a FIDE rated player within six months of learning the game. 

His first international success came from winning the U-9 Asian Schools Chess Championship in 2015 which also earned him the Candidate Master (CM) title.

ALSO CHECK | D. Gukesh vs Hikaru Nakamura Round 14 FIDE Candidates 2024

The chess prodigy, who won the U-12 World Youth Chess Championship in 2018, also bagged five gold medals at the 2018 Asian Youth Chess Championships — in the U-12 individual rapid and blitz, U-12 team rapid and blitz, and the U-12 individual classical formats.

He completed the requirements for the International Master (IM) title in March 2018, and in January 2019, he became the second youngest GM at the age of 12 years, seven months, and 17 days, narrowly missing Sergey Karjakin by 17 days. The record was later beaten by Abhimanyu Mishra, making Gukesh the third youngest.

At the 44th Chess Olympiad 2022 in Chennai, he finished with nine points out of eleven to earn an individual gold medal and lead India to a bronze-medal finish. In the same year, he passed 2700 rating points for the first time, reaching a total pf 2726, which made him the third youngest to do so after Wei Yi and Alireza Firouzja.

ALSO READ | Social media reacts as Gukesh win Candidates 2024

He also became the youngest player to beat Magnus Carlsen at the Aim Chess Rapid tournament, since the Norwegian became World Champion.

Carrying the momentum into 2023, Gukesh became the youngest ever player to reach a rating of 2750. He soon surpassed Viswanathan Anand as the top-ranked Indian player for the first time in 37 years.  

In December 2023, with the end of the FIDE Circuit, Gukesh qualified for the 2024 Candidates Tournament. Gukesh had placed second in the Circuit, but since Fabiano Caruana, the winner, had already qualified through the World Cup, the Indian made it to the Candidates tournament.

Gukesh became the third youngest player, after Bobby Fischer and Carlsen, to play in a Candidates tournament.

The Indian teenager is now the youngest challenger ever for the World Championship title. If he surpasses Liren, he will become the youngest World Chess Champion in the history of the sport.

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