Candidates Chess | Teen prodigy Gukesh earns the right to battle Ding for the World crown

The 17-year-old holds Nakamura in the final round, emerges champion after Nepo and Caruana play out a draw; Indian becomes the youngest-ever challenger bettering Kasparov’s record; Tan reigns supreme in the women’s section; Humpy and Vaishali place second and fourth respectively

Updated - April 22, 2024 10:52 pm IST

Published - April 22, 2024 06:53 am IST

D. Gukesh during the FIDE Candidates 2024 chess tournament, in Toronto, Canada.

D. Gukesh during the FIDE Candidates 2024 chess tournament, in Toronto, Canada. | Photo Credit: PTI

D. Gukesh will play for the World chess championship as the youngest challenger in history. The 17-year-old from Chennai won the qualifying event, the Candidates tournament, in Toronto after drawing his final round encounter with second seed Hikaru Nakamura of the United States on April 21.

There was still the possibility of either top-seeded American Fabiano Caruana or Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi, who won the last two Candidates, catching up with him. The two men were facing each other, and the winner could set up a tie-break match.

But that game, after some fluctuations, was finally drawn. Gukesh will take on the reigning champion Ding Liren of China in the World championship match later in the year.

Gukesh wins the Candidates Tournament

The women’s tournament was won by China’s Tan Zhongyi, who finished with nine points, 1.5 ahead of the competition. The Indian duo of Koneru Humpy and R. Vaishali finished with 7.5 points and were placed second and fourth respectively.


Lei Tingjie of China, who was beaten by Humpy, also scored 7.5 points and was third. Vaishali defeated Russian Kateryna Lagno to register her fifth win in a row; that was after losing four in a row.

Tan will meet her compatriot Ju Wenjun for the women’s World championship.

Gukesh had black pieces against Nakamura in their Queen’s Gambit Accepted game which lasted 71 moves; it ended with just the two kings on the board.

“I am so relieved and so happy,” Gukesh said after he was confirmed as the champion. “Following this crazy game (between Caruana and Nepomniachtchi, I was completely emotional. Now I am feeling quite good.”

The results (final round):

Open: Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 8.5 drew D. Gukesh 9; Fabiano Caruana (USA) 8.5 drew with Ian Nepokniachtchi (FIDE) 8.5; Nijat Abasov (Aze) 3.5 lost to R. Praggnanandhaa 7; Alireza Firouzja (Fra) 5 drew with Vidit Gujrathi 6.

Standings: 1. Gukesh 9; 2-4. Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi, and Caruana 8.5; 5. Praggnanandhaa 7; 6. Gujrathi 6; 7. Firouzja 5; 8. Abasov 3.5.

Women: Anna Muzychuk (Ukr) 5.5 drew with Tan Zhongyi (Chn) 9; Kateryna Lagno (Ukr) 6.5 lost to R. Vaishali 7.5; Le Tingjie (Chn) 7.5 lost to Koneru Humpy 7.5; Aleksandra Goryachkina (FIDE) 7 drew with Nurgyul Salimova (Bul) 5.5.

Standings: 1. Tan 9; 2-4. Humpy, Lei and Vaishali 7.5; 5. Goryachkina 7; 6. Lagno 6.5; 7-8. Salimova and Muzychuk 5.5.

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