Gukesh becomes India's youngest Grandmaster

Gukesh missed out on breaking Sergey Karjakin long-standing record of the world’s youngest Grandmaster by just 17 days, but overtook Praggnanandhaa to become the country's youngest GM.

D. Gukesh became India's youngest Grandmaster as he completed his third and final GM norm at the Delhi International Open Chess tournament.   -  Special Arrangement

D. Gukesh became the country's 60th and youngest Grandmaster Tuesday, breaking the record set by R. Praggnanandhaa's in June last year. 

Gukesh completed the GM formalities at the age of 12 years seven months and 17 days, missing out on breaking Sergey Karjakin long-standing record of the world’s youngest Grandmaster by just 17 days, but overtook Praggnanandhaa who did it in 12 years, 10 months and 13 days.

On the auspicious day of Pongal, a harvest festival celebrated predominantly in his native state of Tamil Nadu, Gukesh defeated Dinesh Sharma in the ninth round of the Delhi International Open Grandmasters chess tournament for this third and final GM norm.

Gukesh is now second in the all-time list of youngest GMs in the world. Parimarjan Negi, in 2006, and Praggnanandhaa last year, also held similar distinction.

Five years after taking the sport, Gukesh became an International Master in March last year. In April, he attained his first GM-norm by finishing third in the Bangkok Open and added a second in December, in the Orbis 2 round-robin tournament at Paracin, Serbia.

“I’m very happy,” said the Chennai-boy after completing the formalities of becoming a Grandmaster.

“During today’s game, I felt a bit of pressure (knowing that a victory would be enough) but
soon I felt fine.”

Gukesh, who became the World under-12 champion in November last, narrowly missed breaking Karjakin’s record by just half-a-point in the Sunway Sitges International tournament in Barcelona in December. The following week, he took his live rating past the stipulated 2500-mark in the recently-concluded event in Mumbai.

READ | D. Gukesh misses chance to become youngest GM by a whisker

Initially coached by M. S. Bhaskar, Gukesh has since trained under several others. Son of an ENT specialist Dr. Rajnikanth and Dr. Padma Kumari, Gukesh acknowledged the contributions of his trainers Vijay Anand and Commonwealth champion P. Karthikeyan and his present coach GM Vishnu Prasanna. He was quick to add the name of his mental-trainer Krishna Prasad to the list.

Parental support

Padma, visibly emotional after her son’s record-breaking feat, praised her husband for devoting “365 days a year for Gukesh’s chess.” She said, “He sacrificed his career for Gukesh and remains his pillar of support. For the past five years, he has spent all his time planning every tournament for Gukesh, booking his tickets and room. He only thinks of Gukesh’s chess. So the whole credit should go to my husband. He will be here (from Chennai) tomorrow.

“We both wanted Gukesh to become a professional chess player. About five years ago, when he took up chess seriously, we didn’t think of any record. We didn’t imagine he would become a GM in five years.”

She went on to point out Gukesh’s “dedication, hard work and love for the game” as the reasons for his rapid strides in chess.

Indeed, with young turks like Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin and Gukesh making the chess world sit up and take note, the future of Indian chess looks very bright.