Saturday, May 18, 2024

Indian teenager Gukesh to challenge China’s Ding for world chess title

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Seventeen-year-old Gukesh Dommaraju sets up world title showdown after winning the 2024 Candidates Tournament.

India’s Gukesh Dommaraju has become the youngest player to win the men’s Candidates chess tournament after a draw against Hikaru Nakamura on a nail-biting final day of the double round-robin event in Toronto.

The 17-year-old grandmaster effectively wrapped up victory in the tournament on Sunday after American Fabiano Caruana blundered a winning position against Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi to be held to a draw.

Gukesh’s draw with the black pieces put him on 9/14 with Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi and Caruana finishing on 8.5/14.

With the win, Gukesh has set up a world chess title showdown against reigning champion Ding Liren of China.

The grandmaster from Chennai in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state termed the final game “crazy” and said he was feeling “quite emotional” once it was over.

“I am feeling quite good but the journey is only halfway through,” Gukesh said after the game, referring to his qualification for the championship qualification.

Gukesh, who was one of three Indian players in the eight-man Candidates tournament, will face Ding for the title later this year.

The world number 16 played down his achievement as the youngest challenger to the world title.

“I’m just happy about winning and don’t really care about records,” he told reporters.

The youngest winner of a Candidates tournament was Garry Kasparov, who was 20 when he prevailed in 1984, a year before sealing the world champion title against fellow Russian Anatoly Karpov.

Gukesh received widespread support from the Indian diaspora, a large number of whom turned up at the tournament venue.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Gukesh on the win.

“Gukesh’s remarkable achievement at the Candidates in Toronto showcases his extraordinary talent and dedication,” Modi wrote in a post on X.

World number one Magnus Carlsen, a five-time classical chess world champion, relinquished his title last year, citing a lack of motivation.

Tan Zhongyi dominated the women’s tournament and will face fellow Chinese Ju Wenjun for the world title.

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