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Gukesh becomes youngest FIDE Candidates Chess tournament winner, to challenge China's Ding Liren for the world title

It was a stellar display of chess strength by Gukesh throughout the tournament as he scored 9 points. Hikaru Nakamura, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Fabiano Caruana scored 8.5 points each. Gukesh scored five victories and his only loss came against Alireza Firouzja.
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 02:23 IST
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 02:23 IST

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17-year-old Dommaraju Gukesh became the youngest ever in the history of the game to win the elite FIDE Candidates Chess Championship and earn the right to challenge reigning World Champion Ding Liren of China for the World title.

Gukesh becomes the second Indian after five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand to win the elite Candidates event. He will carry home his highest ever prize money of Euros 111,000.

In a thrilling 14th and final round at Toronto, Gukesh held Hikaru Nakamura to draw but went through some anxious moments, waiting for the dramatic encounter between Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi which went through quite a few twists and turns before ending without a decisive result, much to Gukesh’s advantage.

An elated Anand who has been mentoring a few talented prodigies through the Westbridge Anand Chess Academy (WACA) like Gukesh, Pragg and Vaishali commented, "Fantastic result for Gukesh, he has arrived in the true sense”.

Caruana missed the route to victory against Ian Nepomniachtchi in the longest game of the event lasting 109 moves. A victory by Caruana or Nepomniachtchi would have set the stage for tie-break, scheduled tomorrow and an anxious Gukesh kept checking this game, waiting and hoping for a draw.

A dejected Caruana after missing a few routes to the tie-break, later quipped "I feel like an idiot" while Nepomniachtchi dejectedly summed "The game just didn’t go my way".

It was a stellar display of chess strength by Gukesh throughout the tournament as he scored 9 points. Hikaru Nakamura, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Fabiano Caruana scored 8.5 points each. Gukesh scored five victories and his only loss came against Alireza Firouzja. Incidentally in terms of rating, Gukesh was ranked sixth amongst the eight players in fray but was easily the pick of all players for his chess strength as well as his calm demeanour. “My strategy was simple, to play a good game everyday and be in a good mental frame. Throughout this tournament I was in a good frame of mind , even after the loss to Alireza in the 7th round” said Gukesh later.

R Praggnanandhaa defeated Nijat Abasov fo finish 5th with 7 points while Vidit drew against Alireza Firouzja. Nepomniachtchi gunning for a hat trick of Candidates titles was the only undefeated player of the tournament.

Tan Zhongyi was a class apart winning the Women’s Candidates by a huge margin, scoring 9 points while Koneru Humpy, Lei Tingjie, R Vaishali all scored 7.5 points each. It was an amazing performance by Vaishali in the second half as she notched her fifth victory in succession, defeating Kateryna Lagno today to tie for second to fourth place. Humpy too after an indifferent first half did well to finish second. Zhongyi will take on compatriot and reigning World Champion Ju Wenjun in the Women’s World title clash.

Nakamura needing a victory to stay in contention tried all tricks in his books in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted game against Gukesh by keeping the position open. Gukesh went a pawn up on the 20th turn and the queens were traded on the 24th turn. Gukesh played steadily and solidly, exchanging pieces to reach a rook and opposite colour bishop ending. Nakamura never gave up and the draw was signed only after 71 moves when all possibilities of a decisive result were ruled out with just the Kings left standing on the board.

The game between the highest rated player in fray Fabiano Caruana and Nepomniachtchi was intense but marred by nerves and pressure as Caruana missed the winning continuation a few times. The position which was highly complex and Caruana not having managed his time efficiently was literally surviving on borrowed time. The marathon game was a Queen’s Gambit Declined game where Caruana was on the better side.

Final Standings

1. Gukesh (9)

2. Hikaru Nakamura (8.5)

3. Ian Nepomniachtchi (8.5)

4. Fabiano Caruana (8.5)

5. R Praggnanandhaa (7)

6. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (6)

7. Alireza Firouzja (5)

8. Nijat Abasov (3.5)

Women’s Final Standings

1. Tan Zhongui (9)

2. Koneru Humpy (7.5)

3. Lei Tingjie (7.5)

4. R Vaishali (7.5)

5. Alexanddra Goryachkina (6)

6. Kateryna Lagno (6.5)

7. Nurgyul Salimova (5.5)

8. Anna Muzychuk (5.5)

Results of Round 14

Hikaru Nakamura (8.5) drew D Gukesh (9);

Alireza Firouzja (5) drew Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (6);

Nijat Abasov (3.5) lost to R Praggnanandhaa (7);

Fabiano Caruana (8.5) drew Ian Nepokniachtchi (8.5)

Women’s Section

Kateryna Lagno (6.5) lost to R Vaishali (7.5);

Le Tingjie (7.5) lost to Koneru Humpy (7.5);

Anna Muzychuk (5.5) drew Tan Zhongyi (9)

Aleksandra Goryachkina (7) drew Nurgyul Salimova (5.5)

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Published 22 April 2024, 02:23 IST

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