'India Exceptionally Proud Of D Gukesh': PM Modi Lauds 17-Year-Old Grandmaster's Historic Candidates Win


(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) In a momentous achievement for Indian chess, 17-year-old Grandmaster D Gukesh has etched his name in history by clinching victory at the Candidates Chess Tournament, emerging as the youngest-ever challenger to the world title. Prime Minister
Narendra Modi took to social media
to express India's pride in Gukesh's remarkable feat, underscoring his extraordinary talent and dedication.

"India is exceptionally proud of @DGukesh on becoming the youngest-ever player to win the #FIDECandidates! Gukesh's remarkable achievement at the Candidates in Toronto showcases his extraordinary talent and dedication. His outstanding performance and journey to the top inspires millions," PM Modi wrote in a post on X on Monday.

The Chennai-based prodigy's triumph, culminating in a resolute draw against American chess maestro Hikaru Nakamura in the final round, propelled him to the forefront of international chess, with a commendable nine out of a possible 14 points. This stellar performance has earned Gukesh the opportunity to challenge reigning world champion Ding Liren of China in a highly anticipated clash scheduled for the last quarter of the year.

Gukesh's achievement transcends mere statistics, as he surpassed the legendary Garry Kasparov's record by a significant margin. Kasparov, a revered figure in the chess world, was 22 years old when he qualified to contend for the world title in 1984, marking a historic milestone in his illustrious career. Gukesh's triumph at such a young age not only reflects his exceptional skill but also signifies a new chapter in Indian chess history.

"So relieved and so happy. I was following this crazy game (between Fabio Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi), and then I went for a walk with my second (Gregorz Gazevsky), I think that helped," Gukesh said after winning.

Gukesh clinched a cash prize of approximately Rs 78.5 lakh, equivalent to 88,500 Euros, as part of his victory in the prestigious Candidates tournament. This amount contributed to the total prize pool of 500,000 Euros. His achievement marks him as the second Indian, following the legendary Viswanathan Anand, to secure victory in this esteemed competition. Anand, a five-time world champion, previously claimed the title in 2014.

"Congratulations to @DGukesh for becoming the youngest challenger. The @WacaChess family is so proud of what you have done . I'm personally very proud of how you played and handled tough situations. Enjoy the moment," Anand posted on 'X' to congratulate the youngster, who like him, also hails from Chennai.

Needing only a draw to secure his position, Gukesh displayed remarkable composure against Nakamura, signaling his readiness for the grand stage and foreshadowing his emergence as the next major figure in the chess world.

Despite playing with the black pieces, Nakamura found himself adrift in the Queen's Gambit Accepted, unable to muster any advantage against Gukesh's solid play.

As the game progressed, Gukesh seized a pawn advantage, leaving Nakamura scrambling to salvage equality in the ensuing rook and opposite-colored bishops endgame. Despite the game stretching to move 71, the outcome remained inevitable.

Closing with a remarkable 9 points, all attention shifted to the showdown between American Caruana and Russia's Nepomniachtchi.

"...those 15 minutes were probably the most stressful of this entire tournament, I was watching the commentary for sometime and then me and Gajevsky (his trainer) went for a walk and then my father came running," Gukesh revealed.

"Obviously the support system is huge, coming to my team I would not like to take their names but they know how grateful I am to them," he said.

The American, Caruana, dominated Nepomniachtchi right from the opening, establishing a nearly winning position early on. However, the narrative shifted with a critical blunder on the 39th move, allowing Nepomniachtchi to regain a playable stance.

Yet, the drama continued as Caruana rebuilt his advantage, edging close to victory once more. Unfortunately, time pressure intervened, leading to another missed opportunity for Caruana to seal the win.

The ensuing endgame saw a drawn position with queens and pawns, as Caruana persistently pressed for a breakthrough to no avail.

A victory for either player would have forced a tie-break scenario, placing them in joint lead with Gukesh. However, with Caruana, Nepomniachtchi, and Nakamura all finishing on an identical 8.5 points, they settled for a shared second place. Meanwhile, Indian Grandmaster R Praggnanandhaa secured fifth place with seven points, triumphing over Nijat Abasov of Azerbaijan.

Vidit Gujrathi secured the sixth spot with six points after a quick draw against Firouzja Alireza of France in the final round. Alireza finished seventh with five points, while Abasov ended at the bottom with 3.5 points.

Gukesh has been a prominent figure, notably becoming the third youngest Grandmaster in chess history at the age of 12. His recent successes include winning a silver medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games last year.

As for the world championship, the dates and venue are still pending finalization.

"I haven't really thought about it a lot I just got to know the result, the main strategy will be to play good moves. Really look forward to all the preparation and being there," Gukesh said.

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