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Gukesh breaks Praggnanandhaa’s record, becomes country’s youngest Grandmaster

India's youngest Grandmaster D. Gukesh. | Photo Credit: David Llada
Rakesh Rao NEW DELHI 15 January 2019 19:01 IST
Updated: 15 January 2019 19:01 IST

For the record, Gukesh reached the landmark at the age of 12 years, seven months and 17 days.

After running out of time in his desperate bid to break the long-standing record of Sergey Karjakin of being the world’s youngest Grandmaster, D. Gukesh completed the formalities to be the sport’s youngest Grandmaster, at present.

On the auspicious day of Pongal, a harvest festival celebrated predominantly in his native state of Tamil Nadu, the 12-year-old defeated Dinesh Sharma in the ninth round of the Delhi International Open Grandmasters chess tournament for his third and final GM norm.

The country’s 59th GM is also the youngest after breaking the record of state-mate R. Praggnanandhaa set in June last year.

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For the record, Gukesh reached the landmark at the age of 12 years, seven months and 17 days. Praggnanandhaa did it in 12 years, 10 months and 13 days. Karjakin’s record, set in 2002, stays intact at 12 years and seven months.

On the all-time list of youngest GMs, Gukesh now holds the second place. Parimarjan Negi, in 2006, and Praggnanandhaa last year, also held similar distinction.

Five years after taking the sport, the 2006-born Gukesh became an International Master in March last year. In April, he attained his first GM-norm by finishing third in the Bangkok Open and added a second in December, in the Orbis 2 round-robin tournament at Paracin, Serbia.

“I’m very happy,” almost whispered the Chennai-boy after completing the formalities of becoming a Grandmaster. “During today’s game, I felt a bit of pressure (knowing that a victory would be enough) but soon I felt fine.”

Gukesh, who became the World under-12 champion in November last, narrowly missed breaking Karjakin’s record by just half-a-point in the Sunway Sitges International tournament in Barcelona in December. In the following week, he took live rating past the stipulated 2500-mark in the recently-concluded event in Mumbai.

Initially coached by M. S. Bhaskar, Gukesh has since trained under several others. Son of an ENT specialist Dr. Rajnikanth and Dr. Padma Kumari, Gukesh was quick to acknowledge the contributions of his trainers Vijay Anand, GM in-waiting and Commonwealth champion P. Karthikeyan and his present coach GM Vishnu Prasanna. He was quick to add the name of his mental-trainer Krishna Prasad to the list.

Padma, visibly emotional after her son’s record-making feat, praised her husband for devoting “365 days a year for Gukesh’s chess.” She said, “He sacrificed his career for Gukesh and remains his pillar of support. For the past five years, he has spent all his time planning every tournament for Gukesh, booking his tickets and room. He only thinks of Gukesh’s chess. So the whole credit should go to my husband. He will be here (from Chennai) on Wednesday.

“We both wanted Gukesh to become a professional chess player. About five years ago, when he took up chess seriously, we didn’t think of any record. We didn’t imagine he would become a GM in five years.”

She went on to point out Gukesh’s “dedication, hard work and love for the game” as the reasons for his rapid strides in chess.

Indeed, with young turks like Praggnanandhaa, Nihal Sarin and Gukesh, among others, making the chess world sit up and take note, the future of Indian chess looks very bright.

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