How D Gukesh clinched a historic victory for India at Candidates in Toronto - Hindustan Times
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How D Gukesh clinched a historic victory for India at Candidates in Toronto

Apr 22, 2024 10:20 AM IST

D Gukesh 17, became the first Indian to win the Candidates

Indian chess prodigy D Gukesh, at just 17, has become the youngest ever challenger for the world title! He clinched the Candidates Chess Tournament, defeating the legendary Garry Kasparov's 40-year-old record. Gukesh secured an impressive 9 points out of a possible 14, solidifying his position against reigning champion Ding Liren of China – their high-stakes match is expected later this year. The Chennai native surpasses Kasparov's feat by a significant margin, as Kasparov qualified in 1984 at the age of 22.

D Gukesh clinched victory at the Candidates.(PTI)
D Gukesh clinched victory at the Candidates.(PTI)

Gukesh's historic win wasn't just about age – he's also the first teenager ever to conquer the Candidates. Going into the Toronto tournament, Gukesh wasn't considered the top contender, with Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura favored to win, but the 17-year-old beat the odds to reign supreme and became the first Indian to lift the title since 2014. As Gukesh and the entire nation of India celebrate this triumph, we look at a round-by-round dissection of this historic victory.

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Here is a breakdown of the FIDE Candidates:

Round 1 and 2

Round one saw all matches end as a draw, with the tournament finally seeing action in round two. India's Vidit Gujrathi defeated Nakamura in a shock win, while R Praggnanandhaa ended up losing to Gukesh. Caruana was in hot form, as he outplayed Nijat Abasov in a positional domination, and on the other hand, Ian Nepomniachtchi beat Alireza Firouzja in a tight-fought contest.

Also Read | Gukesh makes history, becomes youngest-ever World Championship challenger

Round 3 and 4

In round three, there was a draw between Abasov and Nakamura, as Gukesh also drew against Nepomniachtchi. Meanwhile, Praggnanandhaa caught Vidit by surprise with the Ruy Lopez Jaenisch Gambit Deferred. He defeated Vidit to bag the only win in round three. Round four also had only one decisive match as Nepomniachtchi beat Vidit to get the lead.

Round 5, 6 and 7

Round five saw Praggnanandhaa and Vidit draw to Nepomniachtchi and Caruana respectively. Both Abasov and Firouzja lost to Gukesh and Nakamura respectively, which saw the Indian join Nepomniachtchi in the lead. Abasov and Firouzja lost again in the next round. Then in round seven, Firouzja beat Gukesh and other matches ended as draws, which saw Nepomniachtchi end the first-half of the tournament as the leader.

Round 8 and 9

Round eight saw some thrilling chess as Abasov held Nepomniachtchi to a draw and Gukesh bounced to a win, defeated Vidit. The win saw Gukesh join Nepomniachtchi in pole position, and Nakamura joined Praggnanandhaa in third. All matches in round nine were drawn, except for Vidit's win against Nakamura, who bounced back to winning ways in the next round with a victory against Abasov, and Caruana defeated Firouzja.

Round 10 and 11

Round 10 saw a top-of-the-table contest between Gukesh and Nepomniachtchi, which ended in a draw and the pair still held the joint-lead. Meanwhile, Caruana, Nakamura and Praggnanandhaa were half a point behind. Round 11 saw Nakamura clinch victory against Praggnanandhaa and Vidit lost to Nepomniachtchi. Nepomniachtchi again got the sole lead as Gukesh drew to Caruana.

Round 12 and 13

Nepomniachtchi drew his match in round 12, and Nakamura won his third game in a row. Meanwhile, Gukesh and Caruana bagged wins. Round 12 saw Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura and Gukesh in a three-way for first position. In round 13, Gukesh beat Firouzja and Praggnanandhaa fell to Caruana. Nepomniachtchi and Nakamura had a draw which saw Gukesh get a half-point lead over the pair and Caruana, before the final round.

Round 14

In the final round, Nakamura was white against Gukesh and Caruana got white against Nepomniachtchi. If Gukesh would draw his game, then Nakamura, Caruana and Nepomniachtchi all needed a win to go to tie-breaks. Gukesh ended up drawing his game, with only kings on the board after 71 moves. Meanwhile, Nepomniachtchi and Caruana drew on move 109 in a thrilling contest, which meant that Gukesh won the tournament, and would play for the title later this year.

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