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Chess | Gukesh has been forced to slow down


Gukesh.   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

The 13-year-old was just hitting good form when the pandemic struck

Last year, at the Delhi International Open GMs chess tournament, D. Gukesh became the world’s second youngest Grandmaster at 12 years, seven months and 17 days.

The youngster reached the summit, but the rest of 2019 wasn’t great for him. He had to wait until February 2020 to get his first tournament win — the Hillerod Chess Club open in Denmark — and followed it up with another win at the Cannes Open.

Just when he was hitting good form, the coronavirus pandemic scuppered his plans.

Also read: A Grandmaster for every square: What has Indian chess got right and what can it do better?

Speaking to The Hindu, Gukesh said, “After last year, I did not play well for a year, and my rating even went down. I needed to work on a few areas like openings and dealing with time pressure.”

“Winning these two tournaments has really helped my confidence. I felt I played well after a long time.”

Help from camp

One reason for the change in fortunes was the camp in January for young chess players in Chennai, organised by Microsense with chess legends Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand.

Also read: Data | Indian chessmasters becoming younger

Speaking about the experience, Gukesh said, “It was a different camp. For 10 days, through the day, I focused on openings.

“It came at the right time as well since I was trying a different approach. So, it was very useful.”

Another area that Gukesh said he improved was in dealing with time pressure.

He worked extensively on the time taken for his opening with his coach Vishnu Prasanna.

Crucial wins

The wins in the last two events helped him pocket 20 points and take his Elo rating to 2563, and the 13-year-old targeted going past 2600 this year.

COVID-19, however, has forced the cancellation of tournaments in Germany and Iceland with no events likely to be held till the end of April.

Gukesh, who plays a lot of matches in a year, is not happy about this forced break.

“I would have loved to play more tournaments. I was doing well. I prefer playing a lot of tournaments, and we had planned quite a few as well. But for now, I am just playing some online tournaments conducted by Chessbase India and Chess.com.”

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 11:45:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/chess-gukesh-has-been-forced-to-slow-down/article31211656.ece

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